Abstract

Written in 1975 and first published in its entirety in 1985, this essay constitutes the first and most consequential analysis of the Brazilian Neo-concrete movement of the late 1950s and early '60s. It argues that Neo-concretism realized and simultaneously forced into crisis the essential tenets of the constructive traditions of geometric abstraction as they had been inherited by artists in Brazil. According to Brito, Brazilian Concrete art sought to import a Western model of constructive practice that, while utopian in aim, was ultimately complicit with both a capitalist organization of the market and a positivist, universalizing formulation of the subject. Ill-equipped to adapt to Brazil's prevailing socioeconomic realities, this model was surpassed by the Neo-concrete movement, which, in channeling the “singularities” of art, allowed for the emergence of previously repressed elements such as desire, subjectivity, and expression. A critical rupture within Brazilian modern art, Neo-concretism thus established the conditions for contemporary artistic practice and its “insertion into the ideological field.”

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