Bart van der Leck (Utrecht 1876 – 1958 Blaricum) was the son of a house painter and started as a glazier. In 1898 he started at the art academy in Amsterdam to develop painting. And with success. At first he was under the influence of Isaac Israëls and he mainly painted scenes from everyday life. After his training, his realistic style gradually made way for monumental and modern painting. Van der Leck is best known for his work from the time of De Stijl.
As a painter, designer and ceramist, his style developed and evolved. The earlier, figurative works showed stylized and flat forms and resemble Ancient Egyptian art. He had no more than a painter's box and some clothing when he settled in Laren. In those few months he did not contact other painters and did not visit Hotel Hamdorff, unlike his colleagues. He then lived and worked in and around Utrecht and The Hague between 1908 and 1916. In 1912 he concluded a contract with the art viewer and Mecenas H.P. Bremmer who gave him a monthly allowance in exchange for his work.
During this period he worked on several commissions for Mrs Kröller-Müller and Co, including shipping posters, mosaics for their London office, typographical designs and color designs for Kröller-Müller's houses - including the Jachthuis Sint Hubertus, on which Van der Leck worked with the architect H.P. Berlage. Helene Kröller-Müller was also one of the first to see a genius in Vincent van Gogh. In the famous Kröller-Müller Museum, many works by Van der Leck and Van Gogh still hang side by side. The economic prosperity of Van der Leck's career was strongly determined by his employment with the Kröller-Müllers and the mediation of H.P. Bremmer in that.
In 1916 Van der Leck moved to Laren, where he met Piet Mondrian and began painting abstract compositions with simple basic shapes in primary colors with simple basic shapes, primary colors and monochromatic backgrounds. He made two of the most important paintings of his career: 'The Storm' and 'Dockworkers'. Mondriaan had found a kindred spirit in Van der Leck. However, they were alone with their work in Laren. In 1919 Van der Leck moved to Blaricum. In 1917, he founded the art magazine De Stijl together with Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg – but he refused to sign the movement's first manifesto and left the group a year later.
In the late 1920s and 1930s, Van der Leck again painted more recognizable compositions and found more opportunities to apply his painting to architecture and interior design. His later work also includes designs for carpets, textiles and ceramics. He continued to work on abstract compositions for the rest of his life. He eventually settled in Blaricum, where he died peacefully in his studio two weeks before his 82nd birthday. Van der Leck was not a theorist, like Doesburg, nor a mystic. He was not an anarchist or communist, like Rietveld, but a passionate idealist who believed in a 'new art'. He did immerse himself in new religious movements such as the Sufi movement and the teachings of Krisjamurti. He found social and social experiments more than interesting and sent his children to the Humanitarian school founded by the Blaricum Christian-anarchist colony. He was a member of the Association of Visual Artists Laren-Blaricum. Works can be found in the MoMa, New York, the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery in London, the IVAM in Valencia and a private museum Insel Hombroich near Neuss. Of course there are still 42 paintings and about 400 drawings owned by the Kröller Müller Museum.