The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
In this essay, Ferreira Gullar offers a “panoramic view” of the developments and theoretical tenets of Neoconcrete art in Brazil. As in other essays [see in the ICAA digital archive “Da arte concreta à arte neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315036)], Gullar begins by tracing the origins of Concrete art, from the De Stijl group to the Bauhaus’s “social vision of art, the ideal of integration of art in the city.” Max Bill, he writes, theorized colors as planes of energy that created dynamic actions and reactions, as well as introducing mathematics “less as a method of elaborating his works than as a kind of thematic myth.” For Gullar, the “submission” of Concrete art to mathematics enabled a kind of “decadence,” an “analytical attitude” that eliminated the possibility of “transcendence” in art. This problem motivated the Neoconcrete break—not as a rejection of Concrete postulates, but rather as “a deepening of the experience implicit in them.”
Gullar defines Neoconcrete art as a return to the question of “significant form”—–abandoned by the Concretists—and a new non-figurative language that dispenses with metaphorical space: “A Neoconcrete work takes place directly in real space, without the semantic supports of the frame (in painting) and the base (for sculpture).” He highlights the work of Lygia Clark, who integrated painting and architecture until she ultimately broke away from painting altogether, and Amilcar de Castro, who explored spatio-temporal relationships through sculpture. If the “optical games” of Concretism had brought the movement to an “impasse,” Neoconcrete art represented a return to the revolutionary proposals of earlier pioneers of constructive art: “the intuitive search for a new symbolic language of direct meaning, which replaced the iconic language of traditional painting.”
As is clear from this essay, the critic [José Ribamar] Ferreira Gullar (1930–2016) was closely aligned with the founding of the Neoconcrete group of artists. After publishing his essay “Theory of the Non-Object” in the Sunday Supplement of the Jornal do Brasil on December 19-20, 1959, he became the movement’s main theoretician.
This text, in which Gullar reviews some of his signature theories, was originally published in the inaugural issue of the magazine Revista Crítica de Arte in 1962. It is reproduced in the catalogue Projeto Construtivo Brasileiro na Arte, which accompanied an exhibition organized in São Paulo by Aracy Amaral (b. 1930) and by Lygia Pape (1927–2004). It had a great impact in Brazil, and it led to a new reading of the meaning of the rationalist movements in the nation’s art. In 1977, the show was presented at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, and later at the MAM-RJ (Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro).
[For complementary reading on this exhibition, see in the ICAA digital archive by Lygia Pape “Projeto construtivo brasileiro na arte” (doc. no. 1110680); by Jorge Romero Brest “A arquitetura é a grande arte de nosso tempo—1948: Romero Brest em São Paulo” (doc. no. 1314972); and by Tomás Maldonado “O problema da educação artística depois da Bauhaus” (doc. no. 1315069).
For more by Ferreira Gullar, see “Manifesto Neoconcreto” (doc. no. 1110328); “Do quadro ao não-objeto” (doc. no. 1091272); “Cor e estrutura-cor” (doc. no. 1091219); “A poesia neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315256); “Arte neoconcreta: uma experiência radical” (doc. no. 1315414); “Arte Concreta” (doc. no. 1315020); and “Da arte concreta à arte neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315036), among others].