Theo van Doesburg: Italian Futurist?


Art History



Document Type

Book Chapter


Theo van Doesburg


In the pages of the avant-garde journal De Stijl, editor Theo van Doesburg published the only known work of Italian "anti-philosopher" Aldo Camini in the early 1920s. In his introduction to the work, Van Doesburg recounts finding the dusty manuscript of the "recently deceased, totally unknown painter-writer" by chance in an atelier in Milan. Few contemporary readers knew that "Aldo Camini" was one of Van Doesburg's pseudonyms, and the Italian text had been written, not found, by the Dutchman. The Caminoscopie, as the text was titled, has been described as Van Doesburg's foray into Futurism, but this essay argues that the creation of this alter-ego had more complex motivations, both public and private. First, on a public level, Camini's writing challenges the direction of the Italian avant-gardists rather than simply echoing them. I contend that Camini offers not a belated borrowing of prewar Futurism now past its peak, but rather a timely intervention into the contemporary debates over the character of the avant-garde in the postwar era. Second, on a private level it justifies his unconventional romantic arrangements. Camini's justification of some radically modern attitudes about sex, love, and marriage, among other things, makes sense given Van Doesburg's contemporary circumstances of living abroad with a woman some sixteen years younger, who had taken his name, while still married to his second wife back in Holland. I believe these different impulses worked in conjunction to determine the radical stance that Van Doesburg, as Camini, takes.

Published in

The Low Countries: Crossroads of Culture

Citation/Other Information

Craig D. Eliason. "Theo van Doesburg: Italian Futurist?" In The Low Countries: Crossroads of Culture, 47-56, 2006.

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