Skip to Content

Lygia Pape: Ballet Neoconcreto



In conjunction with the exhibition Lygia Pape: Tecelares, which features the Brazilian artist’s abstract geometric woodblock prints of the 1950s and 1960s, this video of Pape’s Ballet Neoconcreto is presented in the museum’s Stone Gallery.

On a black staging background, seven 3-D shapes are gathered, framed by two yellow cylinders on either side. Two more at the very back are barely visible. A wide red rectangle stands between them up front; narrow red rectangles stand behind in a diagonal formation. There are no shadows. The shapes seem to float.

A moment from a performance of Ballet Neoconcreto (Neo-Concrete Ballet), 1958

Lygia Pape. Courtesy Projeto Lygia Pape

First performed in 1958 and set to an atonal soundtrack, the ballet consists of colorful tubular and cuboid shapes moved slowly across a stage by dancers hidden inside. The performance was inspired by a poem by Reynaldo Jardim, Pape’s friend and fellow modernist, in which he used the words olho (eye) and alvo (target) as spatial markers that change position across several pages. Pape attempted to bring the formal elements of Jardim’s poem into three dimensions. She viewed the space between solids not as a void but rather as its own form; the stage itself, then, is more than a mere background or plane and instead interacts with the dancing shapes as they overlap and separate.

Similar simple geometric shapes seem to dance across the paper in Pape’s Tecelar (Weavings) prints, nearly 100 of which come together for the first in-depth exploration of this influential work since the artist exhibited them in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Experience both Ballet Neoconcreto and Lygia Pape: Tecelares on view at the Art Institute, February 11–June 4, 2023.


Major support for Lygia Pape: Tecelares is provided by The Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation.


See all exhibitions

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions