Variations on a theme

Leaving time at the factory, the moment when a large group of workers departs the factory and pours into the street, is a theme that fascinates Van der Leck. He makes several paintings and drawings with this theme, from fairly realistic to almost abstract.

Increasing degree of abstraction

He made this version during the period when he was part of the artist’s group De Stijl. By using narrow and broad surfaces in black and the primary colours of red, yellow and blue against a white background, he achieves an increasing degree of abstraction. However, Van der Leck had no wish to let go of reality altogether. And for that reason he eventually left De Stijl. Later he remarked on that as follows: ‘For me, painting has always been the representative of ordinary life, I was never too keen on the so-called abstraction’.


The architecture of the factory is still recognizable in the tight horizontal and vertical elements at the top of this painting: specifically the windows and a chimney. The smaller, staggered blocks in the middle depict the crowd moving forward and the horizontal stripes below them represent the street.