From the fall of the Wall to the establishment of the market
To borrow an expression used by Milton Machado, in Brazil the ‘fall of the Wall’ is understood as the end of a period of more than ten years in which our artistic production was isolated from the international circuit, which coincided with the end of the military dictatorship in the early eighties. Before that, the influx of information from the international circuit used to be similar to those remote times before the advent of the internet, when multiculturalism was not an issue appreciated by the post-modern agenda. From this perspective, the fall of our Wall was vital to the exercise of freedom of expression, the condemnation of all forms of censorship, including that which concerned what should be done in the name of art. With an eye on the aesthetic positions in an international ambit, young artists, especially those who studied at the Armando ?lvares Penteado Foundation, in S?o Paulo, and at the Parque Laje Visual Arts School, in Rio de Janeiro, did not necessarily align themselves with the local discussions, whatever they might have been: the implications of neoconcretism and conceptual poetry, among others, which had shared characteristics with aspects of post-minimalism and Arte Povera.
After the barriers which isolated us from the artistic scene were broken down, the world revealed itself very differently. Maybe not at the beginning of eighties, when the country probably still had not yet felt or developed mechanisms of resistance to the impact of homogenization brought by globalisation; but certainly at its end. Besides that, it is important to point out that another novelty of the nineties was the increase in high-quality production in various urban centres from North to South of the country.
After all these exceptions have been made, the optimistic climate of the political opening, expressed in the enthusiastic and, possibly, a-critical adhesion of the Italian Transavantgarde and in German Neo-expressionism, with the successful binomial painting and pleasure, ‘rock-painting’, an expression of the new times and antidote against the ‘hermetic, purist, and extremely intellectual art of the seventies’, ended up being crowned with the development of an embryo of a contemporary art market.
The impact of the market on Brazilian artistic production: investment in culture
When everything seemed to be back on track, an economic crisis emerged during the government of Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1993), the first president following public elections who, ironically, was impeached for corruption. The impact on the artistic sphere, as well as society as a whole, was profound, causing the closing of several galleries and of all magazines. However, even though directly affected by circumstance, the artistic research did not cool off. In one way or another, it had established the basis for its professionalization: the figure of the curator had emerged, and production had started to be disseminated internationally.