Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro welcomes exhibition curated by Aracy Amaral
The exhibition “Aproximações” shows the public a brief introduction to 20th century Brazilian Art, assembling artworks from the pre-Modern era up to the 1930s and 1940s
Starting on April 13th, Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro (FAMA), located in Itu, welcomes the exhibit Aproximações – Breve Introdução à Arte Brasileira do Século XX, with Aracy Amaral’s curatorship. The exhibit assembles 60 artworks, among paintings, drawings, engraves, sculptures and photographs, that when juxtaposed, make possible the comprehension of the political, social and artistic backgrounds in which they were created. The clipping brings artworks from important Brazilian artists, like Almeida Junior and Geraldo Barros, and more renowned modernists like Anita Malfatti, Di Cavalcanti and Tarsila do Amaral.
At the end of the 19th century, Brazilians saw Europe as a cultural and economic reference, specially the French capital, Paris. São Paulo was taking its first steps towards industrialization, sponsored by coffee dealing elites from São Paulo’s state countryside. These elites nourished some type of recognition with Europe’s culture. The incorporation of European standards in Arts was nothing new, but they referred to the year of 1816, when the French Artistic Mission came to Brazil and when was established the Academia Imperial de Belas Artes in Rio, by the Portuguese monarchy.
“The traveling artists that came to Brazil in specific exploration missions or by simple curiosity in the beginning of the 20th century, registered in a singular way our reality and our plant species in paintings, drawings or engraves”, punctuates Aracy. “Only later, our artists would realize or would be motivated by Brazil’s landscapes and environment. That will happen with the inclusion of new techniques, the use of light and surrounding reality”, completes the curator.
The oldest artwork in the displayed clipping is the artwork from Almeida Júnior that opens the exhibition’s core. That also has artworks from Artur Timóteo da Costa (it was rare for black artists to excel in this period), Eliseu Visconti, Pedro Alexandrino, Rodolfo Amoedo, among others.
Almost at the beginning of the 20th century, the statutes from Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (was first called Academia Imperial, and renamed after the Republic’s institution) started to be questioned. There was a renovation anxiety, a desire to depart from the 19th century’s intellectuality and its visual arts’ academic ways. Independent studios and outdoor painting courses started to open throughout the country. In Porto com barcos e homens (1887), Giovanni Battista Castagneto displays his register of Rio’s coastline.
Although the attention started to grow on Brazilian’s artistic context, Brazilian painters still studied in Paris, and most of them were sponsored by Escola de Belas Artes’ scholarship program. Established French artists in Brazil rarely took part in experiments or in European trends. Many of them cultivated realism projecting Brazil’s image in their surroundings, without other worries. “When Visconti brings to Rio late impressionist innovations, he’s considered a pioneer. Rio was at the time the Republic’s capital”, punctuates the curator.
In Brazil, internationalism and nationalism are, at the same time, basic characteristics of the modernist movement. The Brazilian reality perception sharpening happens, paradoxically, as a result of our artists’ cultural horizons enlargement. Tarsila do Amaral, for instance, awoke for the Brazilian common folk while she still lived in France. The same happened with Vicente do Rego Monteiro and Di Cavalcanti, both being displayed in the exhibit assembled by Aracy Amaral.
The modernist weapons that were wielded in favor of renovation also arrived from Germany, country that sheltered for some time the artists Lasar Segall and Anita Malfatti. Anita, who was born in São Paulo, would also live in the United States, in New York City. In 1916, she returned to Brazil, producing artworks with expressionist traits, that would hatch a revolution in the next year, a revolution that would be violently fought by Monteiro Lobato, in his famous article Paranoia ou mistificação, published by O Estado de S. Paulo’s newspaper. From Anita, the exhibit displays Nu Masculino (Homem magro), from 1915-1916, in charcoal over paper.
The 1920s arrived with the celebrations of Brazil’s independence centennial anniversary, and, in that context, the desire to exalt the national spirit and to empower Brazilian reality started to grow. A young country that longed to impose itself. That was the compelling force that created Semana de Arte Moderna, multidisciplinary artistic and cultural manifestation that gathered exponent artists of poetry, literature, music, architecture and visual arts in São Paulo’s Teatro Municipal.
The following decade would gather a singular production, creations from artists that would stamp the modernist movement in Brazil’s visual arts. In that period, the exhibit displays Mulher com flores (1930), from Di Cavalcanti and Aqui é desembarque porque? (1928), from Cícero Dias. Artworks that spotlight Brazilian culture to the world.
Uncommon would be the artists indifferent to the national motto. Among these exceptions, is the artist Ismael Nery, who explored existential matters and, at the same time, was influenced by art déco, a decorative trend that came from cubistic stylizations. Three of his artworks are on display: Figura com sombras (undated), Núcleo vegetal (1931) and A mão predatória (1933).
The 1930s and 1940s
The curator Aracy Amaral introduces the post-modernist’s core, highlighting Flávio de Carvalho: designer, architect, painter, sculptor and artistic scene plugger, real character of the 1930s, that stood out in a background which former modernists from the last decade were isolated or lost their way. He was the creator of the first street performance ever registered in Brazil. In 1931, in his Experiência nº 2, he faced a huge crowd across São Paulo city’s streets, walking in the opposite way of a procession celebrating Corpus Christi, a Christian church festivity. The act was considered disrespectful by the attending public, mainly because of the hat the artist was wearing. The artist was almost lynched by the crowd, having to take refuge in a nearby candy store in São Bento’s street.
Another performance took place in 1956. The artist created men’s clothing outfits, specially conceived for a tropical country. One of the outfits, currently exposed at FAMA’s, consists of a pleated skirt and a loose sleeve blouse. It was then titled Experiência nº 3 – New Look. Flávio de Carvalho paraded across São Paulo’s downtown, wearing the outfit and causing scandal. His goal was to shed light into social conventions regarding the most appropriate outfit for a tropical country.
The exhibition also displays typical artworks from the second era of Modernism, such as Roda Infantil (1932) by Candido Portinari, Paisagem de Mogi (from the 1940s) by Alfredo Volpi, Passagem imaginária (1950) by Alberto da Veiga Guignard and Natureza morta (1951) by José Pancetti.
Slowly the omnipresent portraying gives place to abstraction. The transition can be perceived in the artworks from Antonio Bandeira, Brazilian artist born in Ceará, Brazilian Northeast. In his artworks, the lines seem to lose abidance and no longer outline shapes, but take over the entire piece instead, like in La ville tranquille (1952).
“Exponents of the period’s emerging expressionism are the engraver Oswaldo Goeldi, with his nocturnal engravings, bearing extreme density and beauty and Livio Abramo’s political oriented work. Designer and professional engraver, Livio taught many young artists”, punctuates the curator. In the display, the polychrome woodcut Tarde (undated) by Goeldi and Paisagem paulista (from the 1940s) by Abramo.
Simultaneous to the visual arts abstraction process, a new form of graphical art allures restless youths: the photography. In 1939, the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante was founded, one of the oldest and most important Brazilian photo clubs. Located in São Paulo, it was essential for photography learning, not only as a documentary tool, but also as an artistic one. From there, exponents of Brazilian photography emerged, among them are Geraldo de Barros, the German Lorca, Thomas Farkas and Gaspar Gasparian, all of them being displayed in the exhibit assembled by Aracy Amaral.
Bearing singular importance in Brazilian arts history, Aracy Abreu Amaral was born in São Paulo (1930), and she lives and works at the city.
She was the main teacher in the History of Art course in USP’s Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo, director of São Paulo’s estate pinacoteque from 1975 to 1979 and of USP’s Museu de Arte Contemporânea, from 1982 to 1986. In 2005, she was a member of the Prince Claus Awards Committee in the Netherlands and general coordinator of Projeto Rumos Itaú Cultural. In 2006, she was awarded with Fundação Bunge prize (former Moinho Santista prize) for her contribution to Museology. In 2013, she won a prize from São Paulo’s Government for her curatorship on Exercícios do Olhar, that was exhibited in 2012. In 2017, she was honored by an exhibition on her trajectory in Brazil’s arts history, at Ocupação Itaú Cultural.
She was the former general coordinator of Projeto Rumos Itaú Cultural in 2005 and 2006, period in which she curated for 8th Mercosur Biennial and for Triennial de Chile. Is the author of the titles Arte para que? A preocupação social na arte brasileira, published by Nobel and Itaú Cultural (1983/2003), Blaise Cendrars no Brasil e os modernistas (1970), Artes plásticas na Semana de 22 (1970), Tarsila: sua obra e seu tempo (1975), all of them reissued by Editora 34.