Theo van Doesburg. De Stijl, zesde jaargang, 12, 1924-1925

“When the magazine De Stijl was first published in 1917, it, too, appeared in a more or less traditional format, and it was to be four more years before it completed a thorough transformation. Primarly yielding to Dadaist influence, the characteristic and enigmatic red letters ‘NB’ appeared, along with colourful inscriptions and diagonal arrangements. In any case, throughout its long history (1917-32), De Stijl remainded an elegant, restrained and harmonious publication, one that, despite van Doesburg’s continuous serach for innovation, never really experimented with absolutely new forms (…) With its stern and mostly geometrical, ortogonal structure, the cover pages of De Stijl usually stood apart from that of the more modern magazines. To explain its austere appearance, we should point out that it was conceived before most of the other avant-garde periodicals. By 1917, when it was first published, only the Italian Futurists had explored any form of typographical innovation or irregularity.”

Gladys Fabre, Doris Wintgens Hötte, eds. Van Doesburg & the international avant-garde: constructing a new world. London: Tate Publishing, 2009 (p. 21)

“Early in 1921, van Doesburg along with Mondrian completely redesigned the journal De Stijl a part of a new effort to appeal to a broader European audience (...) The new design for the cover featured the title, De Stijl, printed in black on top of the red letters 'NB', and acronym for the slogan 'nieuwe beelding' ('neo-plasticism'). The most noticeable break with the earlier design resides in the asymmetry of the composition, which deviates from the axial centering of the first three volumes. There is a broad, blank space in the center of the cover, which for De Stijl artists did not represent 'absence' of design, but was an active element that was balanced with the filled-in parts of the composition. The typeface is fairly nondescript, a rather bold grotesque of nineteenth-century origin with the proportions of roman capitals.”

Stephen J. Eskilson. Graphic design: a new history. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012 (p. 181)