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    Synopsis

    In this column, Ferreira Gullar responds to an article by Waldemar Cordeiro, which had been published in the newspaper Correio da Manha in response to Gullar’s review of an exhibition of concrete artists from São Paulo at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro [see in the ICAA digital archive “Concretos de São Paulo no MAM” (doc. no. 1315102)]. Objecting, for example, to Gullar’s characterization of objectivity as a “behavior in the face of creation,” Cordeiro had written that objectivity “transcends the very limits of art to become an index of a philosophical and ideological attitude in the face of new relations that condition our existence.” Gullar responds that Cordeiro’s definition of objectivity—as it seeks scientific and social progress—“will not give the men of today the new images that they need.” Gullar also returns to his contention that concrete artists believe the colors of painting to be a “secondary element”—that they can be substituted without changing its meaning. Cordeiro denies the charge.

     

    Finally, Gullar addresses Cordeiro’s reduction of Lygia Clark’s work to “bilateral geometry” and derivations of Luiz Sacilotto; “only a maniac for compositional rules could see a mere question of bilateral symmetry. The narrow vision of Cordeiro, preoccupied with principles of composition, does not grasp the new meaning that LC gives to spatial construction with her sliding plates, her transformable structures, and the melee of the spectator who is called to participate actively in the work.” If Cordeiro dismisses Neoconcretism as a “play on words,” Gullar contends that such wordplay indicates a new field of expression rooted in experience, rather than dogma, which continues to “bear fruit, widen, and diversify.” 

    Annotations

    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 in Rio de Janeiro. 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 polemical text is indicative of the aesthetic debates that pitted the Concrete artists of São Paulo against their Neoconcrete counterparts in Rio de Janeiro. It was originally published in the Sunday supplement of the Rio de Janeiro newspaper Jornal do Brasil on August 13, 1960. 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). The exhibition 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 from this exhibition, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: by Ferreira Gullar “Arte Concreta” (doc. no. 1315020), “Da arte concreta à arte neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315036), and “Arte neoconcreta, uma contribuição brasileira” (doc. no. 1315052); 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); and “Arte neoconcreta: uma experiência radical” (doc. no. 1315414), among others].