Christian emil Marie Küpper Adopts the Name Theo van Doesburg

In 1902, at the age of 19, Christian Emil Marie Küpper first adopted the name of his stepfather and became Theo van Doesburg.

Later he toyed with using Küpper as the first of a number of pseudonyms or noms de guerre. He published articles under the name Pipifox, briefly, and became a dadaist called IK Bonset. He even got his third wife, Nelly van Moorsel – wearing a convincing moustache, and with pipe in mouth – to pose for a portrait as the mysterious artist. Bonset could do what Van Doesburg could not.

Van Doesburg's leanings towards iconoclastic, anti-art dada – seemingly at complete odds to the purity and rigour of his own art and beliefs – have been described as "guilt-ridden", and "quasi-clandestine". He produced a dadaist magazine, Mecano, alongside his impeccable de Stijl (the Style) magazine, which was devoted to a theory of abstraction. He said he wanted to "splinter himself" and explore different identities, the ­irrational as well as the rational. (One might well wonder how far all this Jekyll and Hyde splintering went, in the artist's private life as well as his public.)