Formlessness, Design and Capitalist Development, Part 07

The De Stijl technique of decomposition of complex into elementary forms corresponded to the discovery that the “new richness” of spirit could not be sought outside the “new poverty” assumed by mechanical civilization.

Dada instead plunged into chaos. By representing chaos, it confirmed its reality; by treating it with irony, it exposed a necessity that had been lacking. This unprovided necessity was precisely that control of formlessness and chaos that De Stijl, all European Constructivist currents, and even the formalist aesthetic of the nineteenth century—from Sichtbarkeit on—posed as the new frontier of visual communications. Thus it is not surprising that Dadaist anarchy and De Stijl order converged and mingled from 1922 on, from the aspect of theory as well as that of practice, in which the main concern was that of working out the means of a new synthesis.

Manfredo Tafuri, Architecture and Utopia, Design and Capitalist Development, 95

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