The History and Evolution of Concrete Art

Concrete art is an artistic movement that has a strong emphasis on geometric abstraction. It was first formulated by Theo van Doesburg in 1930, who used the term to differentiate his vision of art from other abstract artists of the time. After his death in 1931, the term was further defined and popularized by Max Bill, who organized the first international exhibition in 1944 and went on to help promote the style in Latin America. The term was widely adopted after World War II and was promoted through several international exhibitions and art movements. Theo van Doesburg introduced the term Concrete Art in his 1930 manifesto, which was published in the first and only issue of Art Concret magazine.

He stated that there was nothing more real than a line, a color or a plane (a flat area of color). Unlike the impassive and geometric iconography of concrete art, abstract expressionism is a much more emotional, sentimental and derived form of abstraction. It may not be representative, per se, but its shapes, colors and overall design are typically based on associations of the natural world. Therefore, neither Jackson Pollock's action painting, nor Willem de Kooning's gesturalism, nor Mark Rothko's or Barnett Newman's color field painting, is normally classified as concretism. For a comparison between gesturalism and the color field, compare Jackson Pollock's paintings with Mark Rothko's paintings. Concrete art was later exemplified in the spiral abstract sculpture of former Swiss architect, sculptor and designer of Bauhaus Max Bill (1908-9), who made the genre known and popularized it in his own country, in particular by organizing the first international exhibition of concrete art in Basel in 1944 - and also introducing it to Italy, Argentina and Brazil. In keeping with Swiss talent for minimalist graphic design and poster art, Bill's works have been seen as precursors of minimalism in sculpture.

There is a specific art museum in Zurich, Switzerland dedicated to his work. Two important collectors of concrete art include Solomon R. Guggenheim (1861-194) and Peggy Guggenheim (1898-197). Other notable figures associated with concrete art include Georges Vantongerloo (1866-196), Belgian founder and member of De Stijl; Piet Mondrian (1872-194), founder of neoplastism; Bart Van Der Leck (1876-195); Theo van Doesburg (1883-193), leader of the Dutch group De Stijl; Fernand Leger (1881-195), French semi-abstract painter; Auguste Herbin (1882-1960), one of the founders of the abstraction-creation group; Robert Delaunay (1885-194), founder of Orphism (Simultanism); Sonia Delaunay-Turk (1885-197), wife of Delaunay noted for her colorful abstract works; Jean Helion (1904-8), signed the Doesburg Concrete Art Manifesto; member of Abstraction-Creation; Paul Klee (1879-1940), Swiss fantastic painter; Johannes Itten (1888-196), Swiss geometric abstractionist; Max Bill (1908-9), Swiss artist, promoter of concrete art in Switzerland, Italy, Argentina & Brazil; Concrete Invention, Spanish Concreto-Invention, a group of artists based in Buenos Aires in the 1940s known for their works of geometric abstraction. The forerunner of concrete art was abstraction which began at the beginning of the century.

While abstraction simplifies representative motifs given, the approach to a particular work of art is completely different. In addition to the concrete term, artists used the term constructive in the reception of their works and it is still used today. This has to do with the fact that creating works is also always about constructing an aesthetic idea that only has to satisfy itself. Perhaps a somewhat marginal movement, concrete art continues to produce (and continues to produce) art that has the power to fascinate us even to this day. However, some seventy native painters were represented in the exhibition Arte astratta e concreta in Italy which was held three years later at the National Gallery in Rome. Concrete art differs from abstractionism and constructivism mainly in that it develops by studying the laws of mathematics and scientific thought (first of all, the harmony of geometric figures), concentrating on the interaction of form and color in drawing, and studying the possibilities of color transfer.

But one that goes further in radicalizing painting history as concrete is Zurich artist Richard Paul Lohse. In reality De Stijl was actually the name of the magazine published by clique leader Theo van Doesburg which served to bring their ideals closer to art loving public. With pieces by Victor Vasarely, Josef Albers, Max Bill and many others this extensive catalogue allows us to take a look at Peter & Rosemarie Ruppert's private collection possibly most complete in world which covers last 70 years of concrete art in depth. It was envisaged that ideally purely concrete art should be based on purely mathematical & geometric parameters. The former eventually joined international movements that were based on technological aspects defended by pioneers of Concrete Art emerging as optical art kinetic art & programmatic art. Although these rival groups promoted “concrete art” their name for geometric abstraction devoid of representative content differed in their artistic philosophies. If concrete art on page was defined by playful & permutational works then three dimensions had ability to express mathematical & scientific concepts with more singular & static grandeur. Concrete art is a style that stands out only in itself an abstract art form that is not based on visually perceptible.

The magnitude of these murals introduced existence this group Europe together under acronym AC4CA Australian Centre for Concrete Art originally from city Perth Western Australia. While several institutions Europe have chosen to work with Arte Concreto they have expanded vision. Concrete works art their final stage execution are...

Jack Brown
Jack Brown

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