MUSEU DE ARTE DE SO PAULO - Assis Chateaubriand

PAST EXHIBITIONS

Wanda Pimentel, Untitled, from the Involvment series, 1968 and Untitled, from the Involvment series,1968.

WANDA PIMENTEL: INVOLVEMENTS

This show features, for the first time, a set of 27 paintings from the Envolvimento [Involvement] series, produced at the outset of the career of Wanda Pimentel (Rio de Janeiro, 1943) — a series that remains one of the artist’s most emblematic. The focus of this exhibition is Pimentel’s most productive period for the Envolvimentos, the years 1968 and 1969, although she worked on this series until 1984.

Wanda Pimentel began her studies in art in 1964, in Rio de Janeiro, where she was a student of Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), a painter known for his rigorous geometric abstractions. A good part of artistic production in the 1960s explored new paths for figurative art (in opposition to abstract art) through the pop art of the United States and in England, the nouveau réalisme in France, and the new figuration and new objectivity movements in Brazil. Pimentel’s work, and particularly the Envolvimento series, can be understood in light of the clashing of these two apparently irreconcilable references: on the one hand, the rigor of the lines and abstract, geometric shapes; on the other, the desire to represent the contemporary and everyday world in transformation, as it is experienced and perceived.

The world represented in the paintings of this series involves a female body (even though we only see the body’s legs and feet) in concise framings of household environments — the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, the sewing room. The fragmented representation of the body and of the house is made in a synthetic, schematic, geometrized way, through precise (straight or curved) lines, fields of flat colors (without variations of hue, shadowings or gradations), a meticulous technique of applying the paint (there are no traces of gestures or brushstrokes apparent on the canvas) and a reduced color palette (often with black, white and one, two or three primary colors). The result is multicolored, bright, precise and stiff paintings with fragmented spaces and incongruent perspectives, as well as a strong tension between the bodies, the objects and the involvements among them.

From the sewing machine to the saw, from the articles of clothing and the shoes to the kitchen utensils, from the liquids that run and flow from the bottles and pans to the wisps of smoke or steam that rise from cigarettes and teacups, from the legs to the feet — everything appears to be simultaneously on the verge of chaos and yet submitted to the rigor of an order and discipline, something that the sequence of 27 works presented here (more than the paintings considered individually) reveals and underscores in an elegant way.

These readings take on a special significance if we consider the historical context of the late 1960s outside the history of art: all around the world a boom in mass media and consumer culture, and the women’s rights movements; in Brazil, the military dictatorship (1964-80), which was intensified in 1968 with Institutional Act #5 (AI-5), prohibiting political protests of every sort. In this sense, Pimentel’s simultaneously strident and asphyxiating Envolvimentos can be understood as critical and subtle surgical strikes against the entire system that was then being consolidated.

Teresinha Soares, Morra usando as legítimas alpargatas [Die Wearing the Legitimate Espadrille] (from the series Vietnam) 1968, artist’s collection, Belo Horizonte.

WHO’S AFRAID OF TERESINHA SOARES?

MASP PRESENTS A RETROSPECTIVE OF TERESINHA SOARES, A PIONEER IN THE THEMATICS OF FEMALE SEXUALITY

Inaugurating a thematic axis about sexuality, to include a vast programming of exhibitions, starting on April 27 MASP is presenting the exhibition Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? [Who’s Afraid of Teresinha Soares?], with more than 50 artworks by Teresinha Soares (Araxá, Minas Gerais, Brazil, 1927), from her intensely productive period spanning from 1965 to 1976. This will be the first extensive overview of Soares’s production ever held in a museum, in Brazil or abroad, and will also be her first large solo show in more than 40 years. The title of the show alludes to the celebrated play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, and refers to the behavioral taboos that the work of Teresinha Soares confronts by being counterposed to the machismo of both society and the art world.

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? will occupy the museum’s 2nd sublevel with paintings, drawings, prints, box-objects, reliefs and installations, as well as photographic documentation about the artist’s pioneering happenings and performances. The show will shed light on the little-known production of one of the most questioning and controversial Brazilian artists of the 1960s, who in that period was widely reported in the mass media. A powerful and emancipated personality, a writer and defender of women’s rights, Soares rounds out her biography by being the first woman ever elected to the city council of the city of her birth, as well as a beauty pageant winner, a public worker and a professor.

A pioneering artist in regard to the treatment of themes of gender, such as female sexual liberation, violence against women, motherhood and prostitution, Soares also made works that dealt with political issues, as in the series of paintings Vietnã [Vietnam] (1968), in which she presents an original and irreverent approach to the theme. The representation of the body is one of the most recurrent motifs in the artist’s oeuvre, encompassing a range of aspects spanning from eroticism and sex to birth, death, and the relationship with nature.

In the work Eurótica [Eurotic] (1970), consisting of an album of silkscreen prints made based on line drawings and printed on differently colored sheets of paper, a variety of sexual positions is configured on the basis of combinations of bodies and different libidinous interactions. Based on those erotic drawings, Soares developed Corpo a corpo in cor-pus meus [Body to Body in Colour-Pus of Mine] (1971), her first large installation, which represents a milestone in her career. Open to participation by the spectator, this artwork is composed of four modules of different heights, made of white-painted wood, like a raised stage in a sinuous shape that occupies 24 square meters of space. On opening day, a performance will be held to inaugurate the work, just like the one Soares carried out in the Grand Salon of the Museu de Arte da Pampulha, in 1970, with the participation of dancers and the narration of a text recorded by her.

Although it is possible to relate Soare’s work with some trends from the 1960s, such as global pop art, nouveau réalisme and the Brazilian new-objectivity movement, the artist always resorted to an artistic language that was both spontaneous and personal. Even today, her work is little-known to the Brazilian public at large, despite that Soares participated actively in the art circuit for ten years, holding exhibitions in galleries, salons and biennials. Currently, she has been increasingly participating in international exhibitions that contextualize her in the ambit of the new figuration movement of the 1960s, as well as in political art: The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop (Tate Modern, London, 2015), Arte Vida (Rio de Janeiro, 2014) and Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960–1985 (Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, 2017).

For the exhibition’s curator Rodrigo Moura, “today, as her work is beginning to garner more recognition both in Brazil and abroad, an exhibition that takes a close look at her career and analyzes the evolution of her artistic language contributes not only to this recognition, but also toward understanding the mechanisms and the methodologies that informed a feminist practice in the Brazilian context of that period.” Adriano Pedrosa, MASP’s artistic director, comments on the show’s relevance: “it is a privilege for MASP to present the first general overview of the artist’s oeuvre. The museum thus fulfills a crucial role: that of presenting to the public at large a work which should be considered and reinscribed in the recent history of Brazilian art.”

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? is being held in the context of the museum’s programming for 2017 dedicated to the thematics of sexuality. Around the show Histórias da sexualidade [Histories of Sexuality] which will feature artworks from different periods and collections, there will also be a number of monographic exhibitions by Brazilian and international artists whose works raise questions about corporeality, desire, sensuality, eroticism, feminism, questions of gender, and other issues. This exhibition by Teresinha Soares, will be followed by solo shows featuring the work, respectively, of Wanda Pimentel, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Miguel Rio Branco, Guerrilla Girls, Pedro Correia de Araújo and Tunga.

CATALOG

Simultaneously with the organization of the exhibition, MASP is editing the first large monographic catalog of the artist (R$150, 272 pp.), to be released at the exhibition’s opening. The book has been edited by Adriano Pedrosa and Rodrigo Moura and contains more than 200 illustrations of works by Teresinha Soares, period documents and works by other artists, along with previously unpublished texts by curators of the exhibition, the artist herself and by four invited curators. The authors analyze Soares’s pioneering work and contextualize it alongside the production of other artists who were working in Brazil and internationally in the same period.

The catalog consists of the following texts: “Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares?” by Rodrigo Moura; “A arte erótica singular de Teresinha Soares” [The Singular Erotic Art of Teresinha Soares], by Cecilia Fajardo-Hill; “Realista e erótica, minha arte é como a cruz para o capeta” [Realistic and Erotic, My Art Is Like the Cross Is to the Devil], by Frederico Morais; “O corpo na poética de Teresinha Soares” [The Body in the Poetics of Teresinha Soares], by Marília Andrés Ribeiro; “’Acontecências’: devir-mulher nos jornais de Teresinha Soares” [”Trends”: Becoming-a-Woman in the Journals of Teresinha Soares] by Camila Bechelany; “Um pop pantagruélico: a ‘arte erótica de contestação’ de Teresinha Soares” [A Pantagruelian Pop: Teresinha Soares’s “Erotic Art of Questioning”], by Sofia Gotti; as well as an interview given by Teresinha Soares to Rodrigo Moura and Camila Bechelany and the essays by Teresinha Soares, “Amo São Paulo” [I Love São Paulo] (1968), “Cor-pus meus versus o mar” [My Color/Corpus Versus the Sea] (1971) and “O impossível acontece” [The Impossible Happens] (1973).

Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares? is curated by Rodrigo Moura, adjunct curator of Brazilian art of MASP, and Camila Bechelany, assistant curator of MASP. Exhibition design by METRO Arquitetos Associados.

Mauro Restiffe, Avenida Paulista #6, Três Marias, 2017, courtesy of the artist

AVENIDA PAULISTA

This exhibition turns MASP’s attention to its surroundings, taking Avenida Paulista not only as the place where it stands, but also as an object of consideration and reflection. This is significant in the museum’s 70th anniversary (inaugurated in 1947, it was then centrally located at Rua 7 de Abril, only to be transferred to this building in 1968): the display represents a new regard to this iconic place in São Paulo, being at once one of the city’s postcards, as well as stage to clashes and disputes of different nature.

What are the themes passing through this avenue that has 2,800 meters and more than 120 years of history? Social and economic contrasts, financial capital and informal trade, symbolic capital and cultural institutions, political demonstrations and matters of sexuality (home to one of the world’s biggest LGBT pride parades). As a symbol of São Paulo, Avenida Paulista also bears the contradictions, frictions, and tensions of a rich, complex, unequal city. 

The exhibition is split in two major segments. The first one, on the left and back walls of the first floor gallery, comprises representations of the avenue, with photographs, documents, paintings, records of performing actions, objects, and historical posters of 38 authors, ranging from 1891 to 2016, organized chronologically. The second segment is composed by14 new projects commissioned for the exhibition, which occupy the entrance hall, the center, and the right part of the first floor gallery (André Komatsu, Cinthia Marcelle, Graziela Kunsch, Ibã Huni Kuin with Bane and Mana Huni Kuin, Lais Myrrha, Marcelo Cidade, Mauro Restiffe, and Rochelle Costi with Renato Firmino), the basement gallery (Daniel de Paula), the sub-basement video room (Luiz Roque), the Free Span (Marcius Galan), and an intervention on the second floor gallery (Dora Longo Bahia), as well as unrealized projects by Ana Dias Batista and Renata Lucas which are reproduced in the exhibition’s catalogue.

As part of Avenida Paulista, there is a weekly program comprising 13 workshops and 8 movie screenings. The workshops—conducted by theatre groups, collectives, architects, and artists—take the avenue as stage and creative space, thus activating its history and memory spaces. The movie screenings, organized by the artist Dora Longo Bahia along with the study group Depois do Fim da Arte, take place in the museum’s small auditorium on the basement, and ponder about the artist’s place in the city.

It is important to think of this exhibition as an unfolding of the architectural and urbanistic vocation inherent to this building idealized by Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), always taking into consideration its essential features— transparency, permeability, copious use of glass, free plans, and the suspension of a major concrete volume—, thus allowing the gaze and the city to pass through the museum. In this sense, to think about MASP means to lean over the city’s issues and, most importantly, the place where it is located since 1968.

ARTISTS

3NÓS3, Agostinho Batista de Freitas, Ana Dias Batista, André Komatsu, Antônio Moraes, Carlos Fadon, CIA de Foto, Cildo Meireles, Cinthia Marcelle, Cláudia Andujar, Cristiano Mascaro, Daniel de Paula, Dora Longo Bahia, Dulcinéia Aparecida Rocha, Edu Garcia, Eduardo Castanho, Enzo Ferrara, Ferreira Gullar, Graziela Kunsch, Guilherme Gaensly, Hans Gunter Flieg, Ibã Huni Kuin com Bane e Mana Huni Kuin, Ivan Grilo, Ivo Justino, Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa, Juca Martins, Jules Martin, Kleide Teixeira, Lais Myrrha, Lina Bo Bardi, Luis Carlos Santos, Luiz Hossaka, Luiz Paulo Baravelli, Luiz Roque, Marcelo Cidade, Márcia Alves, Marcius Galan, Maria Luiza Martinelli, Maurício Simonetti, Mauro Restiffe, Maximiliano Scola, Mick Carnicelli, Milton Cruz, Nair Benedicto, Nicolau Leite, Renata Lucas Roberto Winter, Rochelle Costi with Renato Firmino, Sérgio Bertoni, Sonia Guggisberg, Thomaz Farkas, unknown artists, Werner Haberkor and William Zadig

CURATORSHIP Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director, and Tomás Toledo, curator; with Camila Bechelany, Luiza Proença, Fernando Oliva, curators, MASP, and Amilton Mattos, Universidade Federal do Acre

AGOSTINHO BATISTA DE FREITAS, SÃO PAULO

This exhibition features seventy-four paintings executed in the period spanning from the 1950s to the 1990s, including ve canvases recently donated to MASP, adding the work of Agostinho Batista de Freitas (1927-1997) to the Museum’s holdings, thereby correcting what was previously a historical gap in the collection.

The focus here is on depictions of the city of São Paulo, a subject that occupied Batista de Freitas throughout his career. What is evident is not only the extraordinary quantity of paintings about the city, something singular for São Paulo, but also the quality and variety of these works, with a surprising diversity of compositions, colorings, points of view, and framings.

The show sheds light on Batista de Freitas’s relation with the city through various groupings of works, organized in rows, which span from depictions of the Museum’s building, on Avenida Paulista, to aerial views of downtown São Paulo, while also including scenes of daily life in the city’s north zone, where the artist lived, along with a range of different collective situations that include the subjects of travel, festivals, amusements, and religious manifestations.

Displayed within the frank and direct architecture designed by Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), with its transparencies and openings to the cityscape, the paintings by Batista de Freitas encourage the viewer to take an active look at São Paulo, with its complex urban dynamics, histories, and social differences.

Agostinho Batista de Freitas, São Paulo is part of a major wide-scope program developed by MASP’s artistic direction, aimed at questioning the concepts of high and low art and culture, dedicating shows to self-taught artists, often reclusive or from a humble background, operating outside the traditional circuits of the art system. These strategies are now also giving rise to the restaging of the exhibition A mão do povo brasileiro[The Hand of the Brazilian People], one of the most celebrated and controversial exhibitions ever held by the Museum, as well as organizing shows such as Portinari popular, which foster the reading of popular themes in Brazilian modernism. The idea is to construct an open, multiple, and plural Museum which is permeable to different cultures.

The biography of Batista de Freitas is intertwined with the history of MASP. It was the Museum’s founding director, Pietro Maria Bardi (1900-1999), who introduced the artist’s work into the art circuit by organizing his rst solo show, in 1952. Batista de Freitas was then just twenty- ve years old and living in Imirim District, in São Paulo’s north zone, painting and showing his works in the streets of downtown São Paulo, where Bardi met him.

An essential part of this project is the publication of an extensive catalog, with reproductions of all the artworks in the exhibition, rare documents, and period photographs, as well as six previously unpublished essays by curators and critics especially commissioned to produce new re ections about an artist marginalized by the of cial art history up until now. FERNANDO OLIVA, CURATOR, MASPRODRIGO MOURA,ADJUNCT CURATOR OF BRAZILIAN ART, MASP

Work - Thiago Honório

Trabalho [Work] (2013/16) arose based on a set of professional, personal and affective relationships between Thiago Honório and a group of civil construction workers. The artist negotiated with cement workers and construction foremen to either barter or donate their work instruments or tools that now make up this installation. They are shovels, chisels, ladders, pickaxes, hoes, mauls, trowels, saws, sickles, paint rollers, brushes, spatulas and other tools that were used in the restoration of an old supply station that belonged to the electrical power company by the name of Light, a building built in the 1920s at Bandeira Square in downtown São Paulo, now transformed into the Red Bull Station cultural center.

Begun in the context of an artist’s residency, Thiago Honório’s work shuffles the places and meanings of art: transiting through the hands of workers, in the operation of displacement brought about by the artist, in the restoration made with the tools, and finally in the architecture of the space where it is now installed. From an ethical point of view, the artist understood that the receipt of what he calls “gifts,” from the workers, could only result in a donation of Trabalho to a museum, and that is how it arrived at MASP. The rough, raw and cold appearance of the tools-elements of Trabalho contrasts with the traditional perception of the “fine arts,” but is also aligned with the characteristics of the museum building’s brutalist architecture with its apparent, uncovered structural elements and lack of luxury finishings (while also contrasting with the refined architecture of traditional fine arts museums).

There is a complex metalinguistic operation underway – the workers’ tools refer to those of the sculptor, except that here they themselves have become sculptures. On the other hand, tools displayed standing up assume an anthropomorphic verticality (referring to the form of the human body), which winds up representing, metonymically, the workers who once possessed them (metonymy is a figure of speech that substitutes a subject or object by something closely related to it). We are therefore observing a lineup of workers’ portraits, which becomes particularly relevant when we remember that the ground-level plaza under MASP’s clear span has hosted all sorts of manifestations and protests by workers of every sort.

The presence of Thiago Honório’s work has everything to do with the current concerns of the museum’s programming, in regard to the critical revision of not only artists, but also of techniques, languages and modes of production that were left aside, eclipsed by the hegemonic narratives of the history of art, frequently for not being associated with the tastes, protocols and styles of the dominant classes. These questions are clearly present in the reenactement of A mão do povo brasileiro [The Hand of the Brazilian People] — the historical exhibition curated by Lina Bo Bardi in 1969, which will occupy the museum’s first floor beginning on September 1, 2016. Instead of art or artifact, Lina proposed the notion of work [trabalho] to apply to a painting by Candido Portinari just as much as to a tool, insofar as both are products of a human labor, hence the relevance of this Trabalho.

THE HAND OF THE PEOPLE

In the context of The Hand of the Brazilian People, 1969/2016 MASP is presenting a short documentary film by Lygia Pape entitled The Hand of the People. Made in 1974, the film focuses on the disappearance of popular artisanal traditions, a concern also shared by MASP’s 1969 exhibition. As a major figure affiliated to the concrete and neoconcrete groups in the 1950s, working within the constructive tradition and the language of geometric abstraction, Pape was drawn to the visual and formal vocabulary of the popular. This interest was first made apparent in her Tecelares woodcut prints (1955-1959), and would intensify in the 1960s.

After the dissolution of the neoconcrete group in 1963, Pape turned her attention to film and the then-nascentCinema Novo movement. She collaborated with filmmakers designing posters and/or film credit sequences for films such as Vidas secas (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963), Ganga Zumba (Carlos Diegues, 1963), Maioria absoluta (Leon Hirszman, 1964), Deus e o diabo na terra do sol (Glauber Rocha, 1964), Memória do cangaço(Paulo Gil Soares, 1965), among others. Many of them dealt with social issues such as poverty, illiteracy, exploitation, against the backdrop of the arid backlands of northeast Brazil.

Pape produced and directed her own experimental films such as Wampirou (1974), Eat me (1975), andCatiti-Catiti: na terra dos brasis (1978), born out of her engagement with what she called cinema marginal, “a revolutionary act of invention, a new reality, the world as change, error as adventure, and the discovery of freedom: films lasting ten, twenty seconds — anti-films.” In 1974 she directed The Hand of the People, which attests to her commitment to the material culture of the Brazilian people. This is an important issue that she addressed in her 1980 masters thesis entitled Catiti-Catiti: na terra dos brasis, where she points to “misery as a common denominator that triggers the creative process” but also identifies a constructive impulse in the production of the Brazilian people: “we recognize a constructive tropism in Brazilian art that easily refers to indigenous and African origins in the recycled objects of the Northeast, in the permanence of geometric elements of carnival, in the patchwork quilts of Minas Gerais, in popular ceramics, in the spontaneous seaside architecture.”

Made five years after the exhibition The Hand of the Brazilian People, Pape’s film bears a close title and concern, evidencing her inscription within a wider discussion on popular culture that was taking place in Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s; a framework that also included the pioneering work developed by Lina Bo Bardi through MASP’s 1969 exhibition now restaged on the first floor.

Julieta González

THE HAND OF THE BRAZILIAN PEOPLE, 1969/2016

The art of the poor frightens the generals
Bruno Zevi, L’Espresso, Roma,14.3.1965

The Hand of the Brazilian People was the inaugural temporary exhibition at MASP on Avenida Paulista in 1969, presenting a vast panorama of the rich material culture of Brazil—around a thousand objects, including figureheads, votive figures, textiles, garments, furniture, tools, utensils, machinery, musical instruments, ornaments, toys, religious objects, paintings, and sculptures. Conceived by Lina Bo Bardi, with the director of the museum Pietro Maria Bardi, filmmaker Glauber Rocha, and theater director Martim Gonçalves, the exhibition was an unfolding of others organized by the architect of MASP in São Paulo (1959), Salvador (1963), and Rome (1965), the latter closed down upon orders of the Brazilian military government, prompting an article by architect Bruno Zevi entitled L’arte dei poveri fa paura ai generali.

To give value to a production frequently marginalized by the museum and art history, MASP, known for its collection of European masterpieces, engaged in a radical gesture of decolonization. To decolonize the museum meant to rethink it from a bottom-up perspective, presenting art as work. In this sense, a painting by Brazilian modernist Candido Portinari and a hoe were both considered work—a notion that transcended the distinctions between art, artifact, and craft.

In its new phase, MASP seeks to re-establish and deepen its relation to this production, taking as a point of departure the restaging of one of its most iconic exhibitions. The Hand of the Brazilian People is inscribed in a lineage of many other exhibitions at MASP (including the pioneering Popular Art from Pernambuco, in 1949); here, it is taken as an object of study and an exemplary precedent of a decolonizing museum practice.

Furthermore, it is an opportunity to present this production to the public, and to stimulate reflection and debate on its status in the context of the museum and art history, as well as on the contested notions of “popular art” and “popular culture.” The central question posed by the exhibition (and a possibly subversive one to the eyes of the generals of taste) is: in which way can the histories of art and culture in Brazil be reconstructed, recollected, and reconfigured beyond the mores, tastes, and protocols of the dominant classes? A perfect reconstruction of The Hand of the Brazilian People is impossible. We opted to follow the spirit of the original curatorial proposal, making some adjustments. We did not find a complete list of works, rather lists of collectors and museums, which we approached once again, gathering similar works and respecting object typologies. Likewise, its architecture follows that of 1969, but also with adaptions. We decided not to update the time frame of the exhibition—to our knowledge, the objects gathered here were made before 1970—yet have articulated dialogues around work and the popular with solo presentations of artists from different generations: Candido Portinari, Jonathas de Andrade, Lygia Pape, and Thiago Honório. Our interest here is to understand the significance of that inaugural and historical moment of the museum, in order to find new paths and strengthen the presence of the hand of the people at MASP.

Portinari popular

Candido Portinari (1903–1962) is one of the most important and controversial Brazilian artists, and his work has a long relation with MASP, which owns 18 of his artworks. Popular Portinari is the 12th exhibition organized by the Museum, and does not aim to offer a comprehensive overview of the artist’s oeuvre; rather, it presents a specific cross-section. The show’s title meanings — referring not only to the artist’s popularity (his 1944 canvas Retirantes [Migrants] is the work in our collection that is most often posted in social media), but also to his popular, commonplace background, thematics, iconography and diction.

The focus is on the paintings with themes, narratives and figures of popular Brazilian culture — workers in their various activities (agricultural workers on coffee plantations or other sorts of farms, washerwomen, musicians, wildcat gold miners), popular characters and types (the cangaceiro bandit, the migrant, the woman in traditional Bahian dress, the Carajá Indian) and common folk of non-European ethnicities and races (Afro-Brazilians, mulattos, Indians). The characters appear in different geographic and social contexts (in Brodowski, the painter’s city of birth in the interior of São Paulo State, in impoverished landscapes, or in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro), having fun or playing games, dancing or playing music, watching a circus or attending popular festivals, but also feeling pain — in misery, in death. Portinari painted hundreds of portraits of the Brazilian elite, which are not included here, with one exception: Mário de Andrade (1893–1945), an important interlocutor of the artist, the first great interpreter of his work, and a pioneer in the study and valorization of Brazilian popular culture.

The exhibition brings together different representations of popular themes that recurred in Portinari’s work over the decades, thereby evincing his commitment and determined engagement with them. It should be remembered that the artist himself was the son of Italian immigrants who worked in the coffee harvest. Thus, many of the images that Portinari painted over the course of his career are scenes from his own life experience. This extraordinary selection constructs a wide-ranging, profound and sensitive panorama of Brazilian visual history, outside the fashions, tastes and protocols of the dominant classes.

The exhibition design is based on the one used for the 1970 show at MASP entitled Cem obras-primas de Portinari, conceived by Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992), the architect who designed the museum’s building. Portinari popular begins a program of the revision of the production of some key Brazilian modernist artists such as Tarsila do Amaral (1886–1973) and Vicente do Rego Monteiro (1899–1970), based on contents and narratives related to elements of Brazilian popular culture, thereby fostering discussions on race and the country’s social reality and cultural identity. MASP’s interest in popular culture is not new, and this exhibition dialogues with the restaging of The Hand of the Brazilian People, beginning September 1 in the gallery on the museum’s first floor. Why Portinari Popular today? We still suffer from precarious and prejudiced representations of African, Indian and popular cultures and subjects in Brazilian media, politics, society and also in art. It is necessary to deepen the reflection about these strategies of representation, something that the artist’s work anticipates, hence its urgency and relevance.

HISTORIES OF CHILDHOOD

“Every child is a law in him — or herself” — Mario Pedrosa

Histórias da infância [Histories of Childhood] features multiple and diverse representations of childhood from different periods, territories and schools, from the art of Africa and Asia to that of Brazil, Cusco and Europe, including sacred, baroque, academic, modern, contemporary and the so-called popular art, as well as drawings made by children.

The exhibition is part of a project by MASP to juxtapose different collections, disregarding hierarchies and territories that would otherwise segregate them. In this sense, the histories in Histórias da infância are also decolonizing histories and take on a political meaning — there is an understanding that the histories that we can tell are not only those of dominant classes, or of European culture and its visual conventions. Thus, Histórias da infância is part of a larger program of exhibitions concerning different (multiple, diverse and plural)histories, beyond the traditional narratives — Histórias da loucura [Histories of Madness] and Histórias feministas [Feminist Histories] (begun in 2015), Histórias da sexualidade[Histories of Sexuality] (in 2017) and Histórias da escravidão [Histories of Slavery] (in 2018). They are other histories, which include groups, voices and images that were repressed or marginalized, in which children and their way of seeing the world are inserted. Here, not by chance, the average height of the works on display was lowered about 30 cm in relation to the conventional eye level in museums, seeking a relationship closer to the gaze and body of the child.

Histórias da infância is organized around permeable thematic clusters. On the first sublevel, we find the themes of nativity and motherhood; on the first floor, there are individual and family portraits, pictures of the world of education and games, of artist-children, of angel-children and, finally, of death. Iconic works in MASP’s collection — likeThe Schoolboy, by Van Gogh, Pink and Blue, by Renoir, Portrait of Auguste Gabriel Godefroy,by Chardin, and Criança morta [Dead Child] by Portinari — appear in new, transversal and contemporary contexts, in juxtaposition to works from all eras. The exhibition design with hanging panels that do not form closed rooms allows for anarticulation between the various clusters and artworks. The exhibition establishes links withPlaygrounds 2016 — being held on the second sublevel and in the street-level plaza under the building’s clear span — dialoguing with it through reference to playfulness, and though a program of drawing workshops, begun in January 2016 and extending until the end of the exhibition. During the curatorial process, MASP’s Mediation Department also developed an experimental project by gathering histories about some artworks in the museum’s collection told by children from two schools in São Paulo, Escola Municipal de Ensino Fundamental Desembargador Amorim Lima and Colégio São Domingos, with a view toward a future audio guide for the collection (the audio files are available at bit.ly/maspmuseu). In this way, the exhibition acknowledges and includes the histories told by the children themselves: presented on equal standing with the other works, are drawings in the museum’s collection made by children in the 1970s, the 2000s, and most recently in 2016. There is much to learn from these drawings, exchanges and histories.

FOTO CINE CLUBE BANDEIRANTE: FROM ARCHIVE TO NETWORK

Throughout the 76 years since its founding in 1939, the Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante [FCCB] has had a total of more than five thousand members, as it passed though four locations in São Paulo – beginning on the 22nd floor of the  Edifício Martinelli until reaching its current address at 1108 Rua Augusta. Like various groups and clubs that proliferated around the world in the 20th century, the FCCB is part of a large network for the exchange of photographic images. 

Through its salons, exhibitions and publications it has for many years been São Paulo’s most important hub of information and technical training in regard to photography, and for the dissemination of criticism, precepts and interchange among aficionados of photography, whether they be amateurs or professionals. This exhibition presents 279 works by 85 of its members, part of a large archive put together by the FCCB over various decades. The selection on display originated in 2014 based on a loan of 275 photographs and the donation of another four by individuals.

The exhibition is guided by two fundamental notions: that of the archive and that of the network.

The archive is what was constituted by the set of photographs that accumulated in the drawers of the FCCB. The drawers contain the photographs that traveled around Brazil and the world, participating in exhibitions and salons. Each photograph is more than an image, since its back evidences its path by way of seals, notations and stamps. This back is just as important as the image, insofar as it records the photo’s participation in a vast, prolific and long-standing network for the exchange of photographs and information. For this reason, the exhibition shows the front and back of the photographs.

To emphasize the idea of the network, the photographic prints were organized chronologically, according to their first participation in an exhibition. The decision to display the photographs without frames, occupying the inclined panels in two linear rows, is a reference to the simple and unpretentious way that they were originally exhibited at the salons.

On the walls, there is a chronological list of the salons in which the photographs were shown, along with a world map with the places where the exhibitions were held. The research into this archive is complemented by some passages excerpted from about 250 bulletins published by the FCCB, evincing the development of the club’s debates and thought about photography, ever since its founding. A display case presents the catalogs of the first 31 photography salons held by the FCCB.

If this exhibition can be understood as a decisive step in the process of the legitimation of modern Brazilian photography, which has now arrived at the museum, it also seeks to situate the practice of photography in a wider context – between the 1940s and the 1980s. In this context we see the FCCB’s importance for the encouragement and training of amateur and professional photographers, the spread of information about a specific practice that was not yet being taught at technical or art schools, and the formation of a public that appreciated photography – then a “new art” that was both democratic and accessible.

Exhibition curated by Rosângela Rennó, adjunct curator of photography at MASP

CARLA ZACCAGNINI
Elements of Beauty: A Tea Set Is Never Just a Tea Set

Elementos de beleza: Um jogo de chá nunca é apenas um jogo de chá [Elements of Beauty: A Tea Set Is Never Just a Tea Set], a work that is part of MASP’s collection and is being shown for the first time in Brazil, is based on research by Carla Zaccagnini concerning the suffragettes – activists who fought for the woman’s right to vote in England at the beginning of the 20th century. From 1909 onward, the suffragettes began breaking the windows of politicians’ homes and public buildings, as well as store windows – targets full of symbolism, on the borderline between the public and the private. They later aimed their attention – and their weapons – at the museums and the narratives they disseminate, especially in regard to masculine power, patriarchalism and depictions of women with idealized bodies or in rigid social roles.

On March 10, 1914, Mary Richardson entered the National Gallery of London as though she were an ordinary visitor. After a time spent sketching 
Velasquez’s masterpiece painting Rokeby Venus, however, she pulled a meat cleaver out of her sleeve and used it to break the painting’s protective glass and slash the canvas seven times in the section that shows the goddess’s nude torso – marks which she defined as “hieroglyphs,” able to express something “to future generations.” Her declaration also stated: “Justice is an element of beauty as much as color and outline on canvas.” Through her project, Zaccagnini reminds us that behind the political thrust of these and other actions by the suffragettes there pulses a certain relation with the image and its mechanisms of exhibition.

The suffragettes attacked a total of 29 artworks and ethnographic and archaeological artifacts. Elementos de beleza refers to this selection of items, arranging on a large wall 23 frames painted directly on the white surface, in the same dimensions as the originals, 
along with six numbers to represent those artworks whose size is unknown. The visitor is oriented by an audio guide with conjectures concerning what may have motivated the activists to choose a certain artwork and not another, pointing to possible relationships between the elements depicted and the type of damage that the canvases suffered.

Feminism and the question of gender are not the artist’s only concerns in this project, which deals with currently urgent themes such as the participation of minorities in democratic decisions, the conservatism of the political elites who resist change, the crisis of social identities and representation in the public sphere in the 20th century, activism and the confrontation of oppressive structures, and, finally and especially, the challenge to the power constituted by the system of art and its institutions, in which female artists suffer from gender discrimination, treated differently than their male counterparts. For Zaccagnini – interested in the discourse’s unfoldings and its political and cultural consequences, as well as how it is conveyed in the media, in the system of art and in another systems – this work “approaches art objects as agents with a social role, able to carry out an active historical and political function, even during their museological existence.

It is important to note that this work is debuting in Brazil at a socially intense moment for both the country and the world, when the dilemmas of the model of political representativity by way of voting is accompanied by a greater presence of people in the public space, which includes the debate on the renovation of feminism in Brazil, as was also expressed in the recent marches on Avenida Paulista. Elementos de beleza is being held at MASP, a museum whose free span has become synonymous with a public square for every sort of manifestation, exposing political impasses and contrasts that epitomize the contradictions of our time, while also revealing that the suffragettes’ struggle for a more egalitarian society has not yet been completely won.

Exhibition curated by Fernando Oliva, curator at MASP

LEÓN FERRARI: BETWEEN DICTATORSHIPS

MASP has substantial holdings of the work of Argentine León Ferrari (1920–2013), which were gifted to the museum by the artist himself. They include heliographies, a set of Xerox works, as well as two paintings, two sculptures, and one object, most of them – with the exception of two early works from the 1960s – produced during the period of his 15-year exile in São Paulo.

Ferrari arrived in Brazil in 1976, having fled Buenos Aires at the height of the "guerra sucia" [dirty war] that ravaged his home country. By this time he had a long trajectory behind him, and had been an active participant in the avant-garde conceptually oriented movements that emerged in Buenos Aires and Rosario during the 1960s. The works that Ferrari produced in Brazil continued to be critical of dictatorial regimes and of how they exercise control over the population by regulating every aspect of life. The works in this exhibition address these issues through different aesthetic, conceptual, and material operations. The first series, related to his artist books Homens [Men] and Imagens [Images], as well as to his Heliografías [Heliographies], resort to the visual language of technical and architectural drawing to represent the various ideological apparatuses imposed by the state to systematically control the daily life of citizens. The second group of works – which includes the images related to his artist book Parahereges [For Heretics] as well as those made for another series, Releitura da Bíblia [Rereading of the Bible] – addresses religion and the Church, critiquing their conservative positions in regard to sexuality and social mores.

The print and Xerox works are revealing of the context in which Ferrari was working under the dictatorships in both Argentina and Brazil. During his stay in Brazil, he was in contact with artists who were interested in the potential of the print medium in times of political and economic instability, since its low cost and reproducibility afforded greater mobility and distribution. This circle of artists – Carmela Gross, Hudinilson Júnior (1957–2013), Regina Silveira, and Julio Plaza (1938–2003), who were working in heliography, Xerox, microfilm and Letraset – may have influenced his experimentation with these media. The graphic works by León Ferrari that are part of MASP's collection are representative of the important directions in which his work evolved during the years of his exile between two dictatorships.

Exhibition curated by Julieta González, adjuct curator of modern and contemporary art at MASP; and Tomás Toledo, curator at MASP.

MASP'S RHODIA COLLECTION

For the first time, MASP is showing its complete Rhodia fashion collection, featuring clothes created through a collaboration between artists and designers in the 1960s. The collection of 79 pieces, selected by Pietro Maria Bardi (1900–1999), the museum’s founding director, was donated in 1972 by Rhodia. The French chemical manufacturer promoted its synthetic fabrics in Brazil through fashion spectacles, collections and press articles, according to a strategy devised by Lívio Rangan (1933–1984), the company’s visionary publicity manager. The fashion shows presented between 1960 and 1970 were true spectacles that brought together professionals from the fields of theater, dance, music and the arts. Held at the Feira Nacional da Indústria Têxtil [National Textile Industry Fair] (Fenit), Brazil’s largest fashion event at the time, each show featured up to 150 designs, with two collections per year traveling throughout Brazil and internationally.

The group of pieces belonging to MASP is the only one still remaining from this production and includes articles of clothing from different fashion collections. Each garment is a custom-made, unique piece made solely for promoting the brand. Keenly aware of international fashion trends in the 1960s – one of the most revolutionary periods in the history of fashion – Rangan was a source of information regarding international trends that was reprocessed through the combined effort of artists and fashion designers. Rangan’s choice of artists revealed his interest in dialoguing with ​ ​contemporary art, and the designs they produced reflect the main trends in art and fashion in those years. Rhodia’s fashion spectacles had a powerful impact on the media thanks to the participation of well-known Brazilian artists and musicians, boosting the Brazilian fashion system.

MASP’s fashion collection includes pieces with fabric patterns designed by artists who worked with geometric abstraction, such as Willys de Castro (1926–1988), Hércules Barsotti (1914–2010), Antonio Maluf (1926–2005), Waldemar Cordeiro (1925–1973), and Alfredo Volpi (1896–1988); with informal abstraction, such as Manabu Mabe (1924–1997) and Antonio Bandeira (1922–1967); with popular Brazilian references, such as Carybé (1911–1997), Aldemir Martins (1922–2006), Lula Cardoso Ayres (1910–1987), Heitor dos Prazeres (1898–1966), Manezinho Araújo (1910–1993), Gilvan Samico (1928–2013), Francisco Brennand and Carmélio Cruz; and by others, associated with pop art, such as Nelson Leirner and Carlos Vergara.​ ​MASP’s Rhodia Collection evidences the creative potential of a collaboration between art, fashion, design and industry, which has remained unique and unparalleled in Brazil until today, inspiring creativity and new discussions in the current fashion scene.

Exhibition curated by Patrícia Carta, adjuct curator of fashion at MASP; and Tomás Toledo, curator at MASP.

Paul Cézanne, The Great Pine, 1896, oil on canvas.

ART FROM FRANCE: FROM DELACROIX TO CÉZANNE

This exhibition covers nearly 200 years of French art production, from the18th century to the 20th. The works include portraits, landscapes and still lifes, as well as paintings of historical themes and scenes from everyday life, all of which belong to the Southern Hemisphere’s most important collection from that period. The artists represented here are from the neoclassical tradition, such as Ingres, and the romantic one, such as Delacroix; there are also names linked to movements that were precursors to modernism, such as the realism of Courbet; the impressionism of Monet and Degas; the post-impressionism of Cézanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin; the Nabis style of Vuillard; and the cubism of Picasso and Léger. Some were not born in France, but worked there–Picasso, Modigliani, Van Gogh and Zamoyski.

Most of these works bear witness to the political, social, and cultural transformations that marked Europe during the19th century and beginning of the 20th, when art gained other circuits beyond the salons and official commissions—such as the press and the specialized critics; bars bubbling with the life of the new bourgeoisie and intelligentsia; the studios and the importance of their expanded dimension, especially?in the case of Picasso; and the alternative academies, such as Julian and Suisse, which offered different options to the more traditional training of the École de Beaux-Arts.

This exhibition privileged complete sets from the collection, by renowned artists such as Renoir, Toulouse- Lautrec, Modigliani and Manet. Delacroix and Cézanne, shown together in the same space, serve to point out directions for the entire exhibition path, since each in his own time pointed toward the past as well as the future of art history, delineating transitions between tradition and the modern, between the old and the new; for example, between Ingres and Léger. Cézanne, who considered Delacroix as a master and studied painting by making copies of his canvases, knew how to look at his work and perceive modernist qualities in them. Revisiting those ideas, Cézanne lent them new meanings and shifted the balance among various elements of the composition and the painting, lending more emphasis on the brushstroke and less on the subject matter, while above all allowing his works to retain a seemingly unfinished character.

The show also features items from MASP’s historic and photographic archive, such as correspondence concerning donations, acquisitions, invitations, exhibition brochures, press clippings and photographs that recover part of the history of the artworks and of the museum itself. Presented on the same plane as the paintings, they point to a redefinition of places and hierarchies between the works of art and their history within the institution, offering a new status for the materials normally kept away from public view. The arrangement of the panels, steel cables and artworks, coupled with the relation that these elements bear to each other and the surrounding space, takes up the project of Lina Bo Bardi, the architect of MASP. As early as1950, in the former headquarters at Rua 7 de Abril, her exhibition design had already anticipated notions of transparency, lightness and suspension, without divisions into rooms or a rigid chronology. These fundamental choices paved the way for her radical solution of displaying paintings on glass easels which, absent since1996, are returning to MASP at the end of this year.

ARTISTS Amedeo Modigliani, August Zamoyski, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Edouard Vuillard, Eugène Delacroix, Fernand Léger, ?Gustave Courbet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Henri Matisse, Honoré Daumier, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Simeón Chardin, Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Jean-Marc Nattier, Marie Laurencin, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Suzane Valadon and Vincent van Gogh.

Exhibition curated by Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director; Eugênia Gorini Esmeraldo, coordinator of exchanges department; and Fernando Oliva, assistant curator.

PLAYGROUNDS 2016

I sought, at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, to resume certain positions. I sought (and hope it happens) to re-create an “environment” at Trianon. And I would like the public to go there, to see exhibitions in the open air and to discuss, listen to music, watch films. I would like children to play in the morning and afternoon sun. — LINA BO BARDI, 1967

Playgrounds 2016 presents six new works by artists that consider the public’s engagement in the museum and its surroundings. Céline Condorelli (France/ United Kingdom), Ernesto Neto (Brazil), Grupo Contrafilé (Brazil), O Grupo Inteiro (Brazil), Rasheed Araeen (Pakistan/ United Kingdom) and Yto Barrada (Morocco) are artists whose practices involve playfulness, participation, the public sphere and collective shared experience, which is why they were invited to conceive proposals that  recapture the spirit of Playgrounds, a solo show by artist Nelson Leirner held at MASP.

At Leirner’s show, in 1969, the year that MASP was opened to the public on Avenida Paulista, the artist occupied the ground-level plaza beneath the building’s clear span — a hybrid, borderline space of transition, since it is under the museum’s building but administered by the city government. Playgrounds (1969) included a series of participative works set up in the open air, activating the street and the urban space, blurring the borders between art and life, the museum and its exterior.

The word “playground” is also used in Portuguese to denote an area in a city, at a school, or in a building that has recreational equipment for children to play on. In English, the word “play” includes the senses of playing a role, a musical instrument or a video, while “ground” can denote an area (“grounds”) or the earth itself. Understanding the space of art as a playground requires us to consider  all of these senses, articulating and opening them up to others. In this context, Playgrounds 2016 seeks to recover the dimension of engagement and experience  with art in an enlarged and liberating way, allowing for the manifestation of collective life in the city and in the museum. This aspect is also present in the idea of the museum through Lina Bo Bardi’s architecture. In one of her drawings for the museum, Esculturas praticáveis do Belvedere, Museu Arte Trianon [Practical Sculptures for the Belvedere, Museu Arte Trianon], the artist portrays the area under the clear  span as a playground for children. With this proposal, the museum would become a living, dynamic organism, where the children (as well as adults) could access  it and get to know its collection with curiosity and autonomy.

Playgrounds 2016, held in the public square under MASP’s clear span, as well

as in the second basement level and on the mezzanine of the first basement level, unites the museum’s mediation and exhibition programs while also dialoguing with the exhibition Histórias da infância [Stories of Childhood], beginning April 7. Through art, playfulness and games it is possible to imagine new ways of living together and learning. Education takes place throughout the museum, understood as also being an environment of exchange and transformation of everyone and everything involved: artists, artworks, the museum and its publics.