In December 1916, Theo van Doesburg visited Helene Kröller-Müller and saw what Bart van der Leck had been doing in the second half of 1916. The paintings contained figurative images broken down into separate blocks and strips of colour on a white or black background. Vilmos Huszár was with Van Doesburg on that visit and almost immediately adopted the procedure. Van Doesburg was full of admiration for it but had more difficulty in mastering such a radically abstract approach. Through to May 1917, he continued to construct tightly knit compositions using round or pointed shapes in a more or less Cubist manner. The most finished painting of this type is Card players and it dates from the spring of 1917 – months after Van Doesburg encountered Van der Leck’s new style. The figures in the painting – three seated and one standing – are transformed into arrangements of geometrical shapes but remain intact, rather than dissolving into separate blocks of colour dispersed over the background. It was not until the end of that year that Van Doesburg completed the highly abstract version of his card players known as Composition IX, Opus 18: abstract version of Card players.
Source: C. Blotkamp (ed.), De beginjaren van De Stijl 1917-1922, Utrecht 1982.