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Concrete art

About this term

Source: Oxford University Press

Term coined by Theo van Doesburg in 1930 to refer to a specific type of non-figurative painting and sculpture. Van Doesburg defined the term in the first and only issue of Art Concret, which appeared in April 1930 with a manifesto, The Basis of Concrete Art, signed by van Doesburg, Otto G. Carlsund, Jean Hélion and the Armenian painter Leon Tutundjian (1905–68). In the manifesto it was stated that ‘The painting should be constructed entirely from purely plastic elements, that is to say planes and colours. A pictorial element has no other significance than itself and consequently the painting possesses no other significance than itself.’ Natural forms, lyricism and sentiment were strictly forbidden. Taking a narrow sense of the word ‘abstract’ as implying a starting-point in the visible world, it distinguishes Concrete art from Abstract art as emanating directly from the mind rather than from an abstraction of forms in nature. For this reason the term is sometimes applied retrospectively to the more cerebral abstract works by such other artists as Mondrian, Kandinsky, Malevich and František Kupka.


From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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