10 March 2006
This study-day accompanied the Institute’s exhibition EspaÁo Aberto/EspaÁo Fechado: sites for sculpture in modern Brazil. It examined Brazilian sculpture through the lens of the country’s relationship with Europe and North America over the last fifty years. Beginning with the earliest S?o Paulo Bienal in 1951 the?three papers?looked at?key moments and events that affected the perception, understanding and dissemination of Brazilian sculpture both within and outside its own borders.
The S?o Paulo Bienals not only galvanised dialogues between Brazilian and international artists, but also marked a moment when the rest of the world became more aware of Brazil as a modern nation. Such a task was achieved via an unprecedented embrace of modern architecture by the government in power. If the Festival of Britain in 1951 was demonstrative of an attempt to re-brand the identity of the nation under modernist criteria, Brazil’s project of development through the evocation of modernity lasted an entire decade and produced astonishing results. Its momentum only began to falter after the inauguration of the new capital Brasilia in 1960, itself subsequently considered an international reference for modernist architecture. It was therefore architecture that has received the main focus of attention yet the international connections established among artists during this period were to have a profound effect on the development of modern and contemporary sculpture and art in general. This is a particular historical narrative that is only beginning to be understood beyond its national context and relates to the innovatory and often radical character of Brazilian art from the late 1950s into the 1960s.?
Michael Asbury’s paper explores the circumstances of these events, and their developments into the next decade, when the extrovert, outward-looking optimism of the 1950s was halted by the 1964 military coup. The ensuing dictatorship cut short various important developments within Brazilian socio-cultural production. However, in some respects it also served as the main platform against which artists developed their most radical propositions. There is no doubt however that the military regime isolated Brazil from the rest of the world, a fact exemplified by the international artistic community’s boycott of the 1969 S?o Paulo Bienal. While a small number of self-exiled artists (such as Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Antonio Dias, Rubens Gerchman) lived in Europe and the USA during those years, the major turning point for Brazil came after the demise of the regime in 1985, which - as Milton Machado’s paper examines? - also saw the return of the possibility of imagining a socio-economic recovery.
Finally, Agnaldo Farias’s paper?examines the implications of this shift, looking at the remarkable expansion of Brazil’s commercial gallery sector since the 1990s, and the integration of contemporary Brazilian sculpture within the international art scene.
10 March 2006
10 March 2006