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    In this essay, for the catalogue and landmark exhibition Projeto Construtivo Brasileiro na Arte, Aracy Amaral writes that the “revelation” of her study of this period “was without doubt the possibility of clearly discerning the different positions of the groups of São Paulo and Rio” and distinguishing their distinct contributions to Brazilian art history. Retracing “what has already been said” about the differences between Concrete and Neoconcrete art, she argues that “the differentiation so evident between the São Paulo/Rio groups is very much in polemic realism versus idealism.”


    Amaral highlights the class differences between groups: the Concrete artists of São Paulo were professionals who worked in graphic design, architecture, advertising, and industrial design, and thus approached art—in the words of Waldemar Cordeiro’s manifesto—“not as an ‘expression’ but a ‘product.’” The São Paulo group aimed at “integrating artists into the social process”—that is, the “developmental euphoria” of postwar Brazil—transforming themselves from “decorators of an environment to the possible ‘builders of a new world.’” The Rio group, on the other hand, did not have the same links to business or industry, and emphasized “individual autonomy, isolated work, and pure research unrelated to the utilitarianism that characterized” Concretism. Neoconcrete art of Rio was aesthetically speculative, “more dense in creativity,” engaged with the environment but not with altering “a reality that was too complex.” If the Rio group opened a path to the pop era of the 1960s, the São Paulo group made lasting contributions to the world of advertising, graphic design, furniture, and even landscaping.


    Aracy Amaral (b. 1930) is an art historian, critic, and curator who served as director of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (1975–79) and of the MAC-USP (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, 1982–86). She is currently a professor of Art History at FAU-USP. She is the author of many books about Brazilian art, including Tarsila, sua obra e seu tempo (São Paulo: Editora 34/EDUSP, 2010); Textos do Trópico de Capricórnio – artigos e ensaios (1980–2005) in three volumes (São Paulo: Editora 34, 2006); Arte para quê? A preocupação social na arte brasileira 1930–1970 (São Paulo: Nobel, 2003); and Artes plásticas na Semana de 22 (São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1970). 


    This text appears in the catalogue Projeto Construtivo Brasileiro na Arte, which accompanied an exhibition organized in São Paulo by Amaral and 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 the following texts 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); by Ferreira Gullar “Arte Concreta” (doc. no. 1315020), “Arte neoconcreta, uma contribuição brasileira” (doc. no. 1315052), and “Da arte concreta à arte neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315036).


    For more by Aracy Amaral, see her essays “Arte na rua” (doc. no. 1110675), “Arte da América Latina: questionamentos sobre a discriminação” (doc. no. 776879), “Arte no Brasil” (doc. no. 1110373), “Aspectos do não-objetualismo no Brasil” (doc. no. 1111221), “Brasil na América Latina: uma pluralidade de culturas” (doc. no. 776834), and “Críticos de América Latina votan contra una bienal de Arte Latinoamericano” (doc. no. 1079493), among many others].