Neo-Concrete Art


"There was total freedom. Nothing was dogmatic. Everyone was willing to be creative." —Lygia Pape

Neo-Concrete Art was established in response to Concrete Art, which emphasized the use of planes and colors to convey objective scientific principles. The Swiss artist Max Bill, a major exponent of Concrete Art, had significant exhibitions in São Paulo, Brazil in the early 1950s, inspiring a younger generation of artists there. In 1959, the Neo-Concrete Manifesto was written by a group of artists in Rio de Janeiro—including Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, and Lygia Pape—who shared a similar interest in abstract forms and the use of color but wanted to insert poetic, and sometimes political, meaning and a greater sense of freedom and flexibility into their work. The merging of art and life was crucial: painting was to be removed from its frame, sculpture taken down from its pedestal, and the work constantly subject to re-invention by its viewers. This led to developments in participatory and immersive art, as exemplified by Oiticica's penetrable environments and wearable sculptures or Pape's envisioning of a world without words in Book of Creation. The critic Ronaldo Brito called Neo-Concrete Art a "rupture" in Brazilian art history, one that would inspire later generations of artists in Brazil, including those practicing under the repressive military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.

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