Concrete art is abstract art that is entirely free of any basis in observed reality and that has no symbolic meaning

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  • Theo van Doesburg, 'Counter-Composition VI' 1925
    Theo van Doesburg
    Counter-Composition VI 1925
    Oil on canvas
    support: 500 x 500 mm
    frame: 690 x 691 x 80 mm
    Purchased 1982
  • Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 'Composition No. 15' 1925
    Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart
    Composition No. 15 1925
    Oil on canvas
    support: 1499 x 1251 mm
    frame: 1541 x 1290 x 48 mm
    Purchased 1971© The estate of Friederich Vordemberge-Gildewart
  • Bart van der Leck, 'Composition' 1918
    Bart van der Leck
    Composition 1918
    Oil on canvas
    support: 543 x 425 mm
    frame: 739 x 632 x 60 mm
    Purchased 1966© DACS, 2002

The term was introduced by artist Theo van Doesburg in his 1930 Manifesto of Concrete Art. The manifesto was published in the first and only issue of the magazine Art Concret. He stated that there was nothing more concrete or more real than a line, a colour, or a plane (a flat area of colour).

The Swiss artist Max Bill later became the flag bearer for concrete art organising the first international exhibition in Basle in 1944. He stated that the aim of concrete art is to create ‘in a visible and tangible form things which did not previously exist – to represent abstract thoughts in a sensuous and tangible form’.

In practice concrete art is very close to constructivism and there is a museum of constructive and concrete art in Zurich, Switzerland.