The “Theory of the Non-Object” was published in the Sunday Supplement of the Jornal do Brasil on Dec. 19-20, 1959, as a key contribution to the II Exposição Neoconcreta held in Rio de Janeiro in 1960. [José Ribamar] Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930) was a neo-concrete poet and critic who ultimately became the movement’s main theoretician. This text presents an innovative description of the nature of a work of art that was inspired by Ferreira Gullar’s experiences in constructive avant-garde circles and developed by the Brazilian neo-concrete artists of the 1950s and 1960s. In this essay, Ferreira Gullar discusses his theory concerning the specificity of the neo-concrete work of art, and raises fundamental questions regarding the art that would be produced in the years to come. In addition to reflecting on the actual idea of “art” and “viewer,” he endorses the idea of an “open work of art”—an idea suggested by the Italian semiologist Umberto Eco in a book by the same name (1962)—and the active involvement of the viewing public in the creation of the work in question.
In reference to this matter, see by Ferreira Gullar, “Manifesto Neoconcreto”, Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, March 22, 1959; “Do quadro ao não-objeto”, Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro (1960) ; and “Cor e estrutura-cor”, Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro (1960) .
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