This took place not only amongst the 1950s generation, but throughout a broad section of cultural producers emerging in the 1960s: we can think here of artists as diverse as Cildo Meireles, Antonio Manuel, Ana Maria Maiolino, Antonio Dias and Arthur Barrio. The nativist themes of Brecheret, or more precisely, Oswald de Andrade’s cannibalist metaphor, were combined with an awareness of the geometrical rigor of Max Bill and the acknowledgement of the expressive possibilities of geometry as outlined by neoconcretism.
The transition from the optimistic 1950s to the radical 1960s thus produced an interesting paradox. If modern architecture associated itself, through the notion of Anthropophagy, with the representation of the Brazilian character and constructivist-oriented artists rejected such views embracing a more internationalist perspective, the demise of the utopian dream of a modern nation associated with the construction of Brasilia, brought a renewed interest in Oswaldian ideas amongst sectors of the artistic community. However, no longer was the figure of the threatening savage the metaphoric currency. It was the criminal, the delinquent, the urban threat that emerged as cultural hero during the 1960s. Brazil’s other, had become a city dweller.
Retracing the internationalism of post war constructivism
Guy Brett has suggested that the 1956 exhibition This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, although belonging to a different historical moment, could offer an interesting comparison in terms of its ‘vision of a ‘future’’ with Oiticica’s environmental proposition at the same gallery in 1969. In fact, it is interesting to view such disparate events as cultural products related through a set of common concerns and influences, which affected diverse groups of artists around the world following the Second World War.
In an article from 1960 entitled ‘A SignificaÁ?o de Lygia Clark’ (‘The Significance of Lygia Clark’), the art critic M?rio Pedrosa commented on what he perceived as the decadence sculpture was experiencing at that moment. From the early modernists, he remarked, great sculpture had arisen from developments quite distinct from the domain of painting. The decadence was therefore, in his opinion, a symptom of sculpture’s return to a position of submission to painting. It is interesting that one of the first examples of such decadence given by Pedrosa was the ‘post-Henry Moore group’ in England, whose work he had previously seen as very promising. However, as the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, one of its younger members, demonstrated, the group had, according to Pedrosa, reached a point of exhaustion.
Pedrosa disassociated Clark’s work from what he saw as the ‘decadence’ of international sculpture. Positing Clark in opposition to such a condition of dependency, he claimed that her work stemmed from a personal and profound process of discovery. It is somewhat ironic that hers was a process that began with painting. Nevertheless, it was the breaking away from the picture frame that had allowed the work to ‘move’ towards the viewer, to invite his/her participation. Pedrosa associated such a development with statements made by Gabo and Pevsner where they affirmed their ‘conviction that only spatial constructions would touch the heart of the future human masses.’