The De Stijl movement was part of an era at the beginning of the 2D Ih century when art ists throughout Europe sought to redefine art. They responded to the changes in society and the economy at this time. With the beginning of the machine age and World War I basic human values began to change. This was impetus for artists to find a new, more critical role in society. In particular, they wanted a break with the traditional art and the bequest of the past. Art Nouveau, the first widespread language of design in the 20th century was followed by Art Moderne. Whereas a curvilin ear and a rich decorative style was charac teristic for Art Nouveau, simple machine based aesthetics with sharp geometrical shapes were typical for Art Moderne.
Europe's artists were prepared for even the most radical approaches. Futurism and Constructivism produced many new design ideas. Artists rethought the very nature of design, typography and architecture and found very violent new approaches and techniques. This also was supported by the revolution in Russia and the new communist ideology there. Running parallel to the events in Russia, in Switzerland the Dada emerged as an anti-art in protest of the folly of the war. Cubism made, at that time, a great contribution to the development of abstract art. It is within this context that De Stijl developed.
Dutch artists contributed enormously to the new ideas in art at the beginning of the 20th century. Although they did not invent De Stijl they certainly helped to promote it. Art ist, designers and architects gathered around Theo van Doesburg, the editor of the magazine ,De Stijl", first published in 1917. The magazine was a discussion and information forum for artists that sought a new direction in modern art and followed the ideas of De Stijl. It influenced commercial art and Design in Europe. The movement set new styles for the design of post ers, packaging, furniture and architecture.