Amilcar de Castro at MuBE (part II)

Photo by Carmela Gross


Comment on the show on display until September 26, 2021

[To read the first part of this article click here]

order of opposites

The Minas Gerais steel industry did not escape the impact of the emergence of a new social subject, as evidenced by the massacre of three workers by the Army on November 09.11.1988, 17, at the Volta Redonda plant (which remained under workers' occupation for XNUMX days). Nor were other branches of the state's economy immune, boosted by the installation since 1976, in Betim (outskirts of Belo Horizonte), FIAT's main manufacturing unit in Latin America.

From an objective point of view, it was certainly such a process that, in one way or another, moved the denial overcomer, by Amilcar de Castro, from the idealist molds of the cycle of geometric abstraction. However, on what was the same phenomenon based, seen from the angle of subjective experience?

More difficult to assess and averse to third parties, in addition to being eclipsed by the magna scale of objective evidence – but no less present for that reason – subjective factors certainly retain a decisive role in the authorial constitution of discourse epic. Thus, they contribute to operating a simultaneous restructuring of sensitivity and subjectivity, which gives narration a new level; and, therefore, also new reach in relation to the surroundings.

Here, without being able to claim a precise declaration or testimony, as in a blind navigation, I dare to say that the sustaining operation epic of Amilcar's artistic discourse – by giving a new scale to the works and demanding, therefore, other bases and another way of execution – probably included the mnemonic review of his artistic initiation.

In this sense, it is to be assumed that the return of Amilcar to Minas, in 1972, after twenty years away (in Rio until 1968, and then in the USA until 1971), provoked balances, and existential adjustments and of the artist's memories. Likewise, I presume that the act of assuming, by Amilcar, of teaching responsibilities (including at the Guignard School) may have provided, together with the return to his homeland, the process of introspection and revisiting the formative example, given in the past by the lessons and the pictorial work by Guignard himself (1896 – 1962) – a decisive path through which the young Amilcar, a law student at UFMG, took the direction of the arts.

However, if so, how can one explain the passage from the lyrical and delicate key, subtle – but intensely chromatic – of the master Guignard, to the heavy and opaque structures in oxidized iron and steel, and to the large drawings, in general scarcely chromatic – when not mainly made with lines of black acrylic paint on white – by the disciple Amilcar?

Once again, without being able, in fact, more than to map antitheses and suggest clues in the form of dotted lines, it is possible, nevertheless, to raise questions: in each window that Amilcar opened, tore or unfurled in its heavy steel plates, perhaps would reside the potential memory of a landscape by Guignard?

These, as is known, came on small screens, but were capable of translating and containing mountain ranges, slopes and villages, vast expanses of land, and, Last but not least, immeasurable skies (skies comparable – albeit with a different temperament and ardor – to those of Van Gogh [1853 – 90], in the polarized dialectic between the minimum and the maximum, through the risky gamble of concentrating unlimited natural and cosmic forces in small canvases).

Analogously, could it be that in each crack or fission in the iron could reside the memory of the hard pencil drawing, learned and practiced in Guignard's classes? One can, by chance or finally, assume some similarity between the grooves cracked in the steel by Amilcar's projects and the long white lines that the painter drew with a brush in his landscapes, evoking winding roads in the mountains, trails of balloons and June fires, clouds, churches and houses? In fact, the white brushed line measured – and qualified as a sign of effusion and value resource – the ethereal extension of Guignard's landscapes. Analogously, didn't the cut in the disciple's iron blocks and plates come to dramatically and dialectically qualify extensions and masses of thick structures, of epic scale, dyeing them with the momentary glow of hope and the luminous promise of historical changes?

It follows that, if there is a link between the language of the disciple and that of the master, it will be on the order of opposites. If so, could the paths of the mature sculptor, already recognized as master of his means and master of others, perhaps have passed through the reactivated memory of past lessons, which the artist-when-young-gathered? The fact is that, according to a song, the transformation of something into its opposite is found to be veneration “upside down”.[I]

All in all, fitting the hypothesis, the inversion of the meaning of the procedures, which led the author to prioritize – above the structure – what invaded it from the outside, may also not be dissociated from the graphic experiences, frequently claimed by Amilcar, when referring to his drawings (which, incidentally, he preferred to designate works of a graphic). After all, betweenE" it is a "i ” handwritten on the page, what is the striking and decisive difference if not the gap opened in the stem – the crack between the line that goes up and down, or vice versa? Massive line or open gap? A world of meanings and implications distinguishes the two letters, the e do i; but, on paper, only a small flame of white.

The drawings

In the great drawings, contemporaries of the sculptures epic-realists, the explicit reduction of the elements to what is most essential (schematic lines based on piassava brooms, soaked in black acrylic paint, on a white surface, with the infrequent addition of a “graphic color”) makes explicit the rational and philosophical deliberation of refer the result of the work to the primarily critical and analytical sphere; however, as will be seen, without limiting himself to a self-reflective and objectless discourse, such as generally occurred in the molds of geometric art.

Thus, the critical decomposition of the mimetic plastic process (or the prototypical act of drawing), brought back to what is most essential, evidences, from the outset, the negation of representational pictorial power, that is, critical distance. However, attention: despite prioritizing the analytical function, and despite the immateriality eventually attributed to the support by the unwary (due to the whiteness), the operation did not imply either the resumption of the pure space or the reuse, in the priority molds of self-reference, of the postulates and geometric models.

In fact, as in large-format sculptures, in the critical-reflexive aim of the graphic master, with a epic-realistic, get in the way of social rhythms and forms, genetically inherent, as we shall see, to other work practices (preferably manual) – or critically and dialectically derived from them, such as its negative –, and to be, in this condition, simplified in diagrams or schemes.

Fig. 29 and 30 Drawings by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Here, too, the retrospective comparison is illuminating, to measure the contrast and establish, with precision, the meaning of Amilcar de Castro's research. In fact, it is possible that the quick and decisive strokes of the drawings may suggest – at first sight and an auratic and nostalgic vision, which supposes the continuity of the authorial path – a mental dialogue with geometry. Thus, there was talk of “sensible geometry” and similar formulas.

It is a fact that the gestures and the corresponding layout of Amilcar's brooms, far from being impulsive, pulsional or naive, always denote the clear government of a master will, straight and disciplined, linked, in short, to reason. “Severity”, in Amilcar's speech, was a term used as a compliment. Thus, the strokes of the freehand drawings – with no support other than broom handles or brushes – these, sometimes, handled with both hands – constitute straight lines, operate orthogonal or diagonal turns, or return on themselves, reinforcing already existing traits. done. Wandering zigzag, memories of some invisible labyrinth or echo of Guignard's lessons?

None of that! In fact, such traits – which are not introspective nor born of the hand, but of the arms – summarize gestures and acts of work. In this sense, the movement of the tracing, carried out with usual equipment, suitable for manual labor (brooms, brushes, brushes, brushes or similar), is closer to the paced and repetitive rhythm of basic gestures or work songs (in the root, as we know, both the first sambas and the blues and jazz), in which the variations occur according to the “natural” dynamics of speech and voice, not trained by the virtuosic technique of singing or current impositions in the legal world.

The option

 Fig. 31 and 32 Amilcar de Castro's drawing instruments: brooms, brushes and brushes

Thus, in the drawings, the first instance that governs the progress and stands out to the attentive eye is the economy of the act of work. In short, it is a question of rationally intervening in space: dividing or multiplying it into fractions or fields of action, cutting it short, according to possibilities, in one direction or another. In any task, one starts by measuring and dividing the field, and estimating the effort given the spatial quantity to be worked on. Such is the attitude of the manual worker: sweeper, cleaner, window cleaner, wall painter, laborer who works with a spoon, farmer, graphic worker and so on. It is these that the graphic artist Amilcar emulates and whose work aims to emancipate with his doing, at the same time, free and disciplined.

In this way, when the lines appear, they do not come from geometry, that is, from an operation on a mental or transcendental plane, but rather from a physical act performed on a surface, in friction with the tool – the latter chosen, not by chance, but, among other reasons, because it is much rougher than a brush. Therefore, if there is something of painting there, it certainly resembles that of manual labor – and not, of course, that of the canvas painter, whose handling requires extreme delicacy and dexterity (see Guignard’s brushstroke – again, possible to be evoked as the opposite –, which, from tiny twists, would sprout a road, a palm tree, a cloud…). Amilcar, a designer, traces and leaves traces, like someone who – behind the wheel of a tractor – leaves tire marks on floors subjected to earthworks.

Fig. 33, 34 and 35 Details of drawings by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, LRM photo, 2021

In vain, therefore, will one look for the “auratic” uniqueness – singular and uniquely meditated –, the unique trait – thoughtful and spiritual –, in a drawing, and, on the contrary, each piece by Amilcar comes sisterhood to many others that are, although different, genetically equivalent, in terms of mode and production process. This is what the photos of his work in the studio repeatedly highlight, as well as the photos of the exhibition collections, such as this one at MuBE, where, in addition to the prototypes of sculptures, the brushes and brooms with which Amilcar drew are on display.[ii]

Fig. 36 and 37 Drawing instruments by Amilcar de Castro

In this way, even though they are not the same works – as they are examples of the metabolism of the living work, and, in turn and at the same time, legitimate fruits of such a process –, the produced objects appear as serial and equivalent to each other, varying according to ludic combinations, inherent to a game or game. They all reflect a process or productive mode that, through the case, is affirmed, in its fullness. And the author did not hesitate to say so and clarify the point, insisting that nothing was born of “inspiration”, or of “terrible necessity”,[iii] but it was, on the contrary, the result of work. Work, that is, underlined Amilcar, done in a state of joy.[iv]

Fig 38 Drawing by Amilcar de Castro, detail of the 12 m frieze, MuBE basement, LRM photo, 2021

About what joy Did the Amilcar chart speak? The combination of work and joy tends to seem unusual these days. But who has ever noticed cleaning women, despite all the hardships, working together in a large environment (for example, in a lobby of a SESC building) and without being supervised; or workmen, spoon and putty in hand, putting mortar on the wall – no foreman nearby – all talking, laughing and making fun of one another, you understand what kind of joy, fundamentally collective, Amilcar de Castro was talking about: the joy of working, which, certainly, was not the (solitary) virtuoso, who worships the uniqueness and uniqueness of his excellence's products.

Finally, work may not be just an act under duress and degradation – tripalium, as they say in the sociology of work – even for manual workers. It just needs to be done in company, without coercion and with material and affective recognition. Eisenstein gives an example of this when he shows the tractor drivers in the final sequence of The General Line / The Old and the New (1927 - 29).

Finally, a direct disciple of one of the most delicate and lyrical brushes of the Brazilian pictorial tradition, Amilcar's choice of the instruments used for sweeping the streets and for teams cleaning large buildings is clear and unequivocal. It reflects a dialectical critique, which crosses the realm of appearances and class constraints; injunctions that hamper not only the productive expansion of artistic forces, but, before that, the creative expansion of the metabolic and mental faculties of the workforce in general – which, embedded and repressed, are taken in a raw and reified state, as an abstract force, the predation of the labor market.

impurity and redemption

On the other side of the mirror, what does Amilcar's anti-virtuosity option target and reap in its precise historical moment? What reiterates, after all, provocatively and fearlessly the broom stroke and the impure and dirty form – always with an excess or lack of paint – with the unfinished and provisional air of a construction site, or of something impregnated with many uses and hands, in short, with a somewhat crude appearance, of something originating from a popular workshop or rubber shop?

Fig. 39 and 40 Drawings (on the left, detail of another) by Amilcar de Castro, on an exposed concrete wall in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Such is the appearance of the exposed concrete architecture, the stripped and unfinished, austere and sincere face of the steel or paper objects created by Amilcar de Castro brings to light the social substance of value: living work, universally contained in every act of work. human, now revealed and redeemed, brought to light by the testing of the nine joy.

But what kind of joy is this, alleged as certification of origin, by the author? Certainly, it is not a mere individual effect or a momentary and derived addition, sentimentally contingent; but rather a cornerstone of the objective experience of work, in the words of the author.

Revelation or unholy demonstration?

However, going against the grain of objectivity and seeking to guess what was contained in Amilcar's attachment to work, Gullar, a long-time partner from the neo-concrete movement, assured, in a way of inattention to the words of the person involved: “for Amilcar, his An artist's greatest purpose was to go beyond the normal limits of the work and elevate it to a point where it was confused with 'revelation'”.[v] Is it?

In effect, as if anticipating the auratic and conformist reading of his act, and seeking to make his early critical refutation, the Amilcar graph explicitly criticized the interlocutors, as can be seen in the interviews in the aforementioned films, the current allegations of “inspiration” and of “terrible necessity”, as hypotheses at the root of the artistic act, to which he opposed precisely the affirmation of the joy.

In fact, the ecstatic premise, in terms of an epiphany, as suggested by Gullar, matches the idea of ​​“inspiration”. However, it completely diverges from Amilcar's economy of work, based, as his works demonstrate and the author highlights it, by productivity cheerful and and the gratuitousness of the forms. Hence, of course, the mixture paradoxical in the works in question, the unpredictability attested (of each graphic act) and the content also attested (of the resulting objects, always presented alongside similar ones).

Fig. 41 and 42 Drawing details (12 m long frieze) by Amilcar de Castro, in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Joy: history mode and objective state

The French constitution of Year II (1793) of the revolutionary republic recognized and gave objectivity to the “universal tendency towards good”, as inherent in every citizen. Correspondingly, Saint-Just (1767 – 1794), on the 13th of the year II (03.03.1794), concluded his report on proposing the means of “indemnifying all the unfortunate with the assets of the enemies of the Republic (sur les moyens d'indemniser tous les malheureux avec les biens des ennemis de la Repúblique)”, with the statement: “Happiness is a new idea in Europe (Le bonheur is a new idea in Europe). "[vi]

Universal propensity to goodness and generalized and legitimate aspiration to happiness are placed there, within the scope of revolutionary legislative debates, as historical modes correlated to republican citizenship and objective states, linked to the satisfaction of general basic needs. Similarly, if research on the joy, here on the screen, is reoriented according to the conception of a state rooted in the experience of work – as it was, in fact, put by Amilcar on the occasions mentioned above – there is a collective mode and an affective state precisely determined and objectively specified in its conditions essential.

In the order of facts and historical processes, the combination of work and joy constituted a specific social and historical utopia. It is to her that it is necessary to go back, in order to understand the profane and materialistic joy of Amilcar de Castro, without support in ecstatic revelation and virtuosity – both always understood as an appanage or privilege –: the so-called “revelation”, of the soul; and the second, of the individual.

The joy Amilcar spoke of was current, collective and earthly, and rooted in work. As a collective mode situated in the objectivity of the historical process, the joy of working – that is to say, the eros of matter and the joy genuine, inherent to the act of making, put in terms of social utopia – has molds very close to those that were historically delineated in Moscow, in 1923, through the notion of “productivist mastery”, by Nikolay Tarabukin (1889 – 1956), constructivist thinker -productivist:

“The problem of productivist mastery cannot be solved by a superficial connection between art and production, but only by their organic relationship, by connecting the process work and creation. (...) every man who works, whatever his form of activity - material or purely intellectual - ceases, the moment he is animated by the will to do his work to perfection, to be a worker-craftsman in order to become a master creator. For the master, artist in his domain, there cannot be trivial, mechanical works: his activity is an artistic, creative activity. Such work is devoid of the humiliating and destructive aspects that characterize work under duress. The organic link between work and freedom, creation and mastery inherent in art, can be realized by integrating art with work. By reconnecting art to work, work to production, and production to life, to everyday existence, an extremely arduous social problem is solved in one fell swoop. The theory of value founded on work receives resounding confirmation here: the value of an object is directly proportional to the work invested in it; the expenditure of an extra fraction of human energy devoted to perfecting the object increases its value. The artist ceases to be a maker of museum objects that have lost all meaning, to become a creator of indispensable vital values; (…)”.[vii]

Joy + antivirtuosity = antiart

An experienced graphic artist, Amilcar knew perfectly well what he wanted when he opted for crude and rough tools, suitable for street sweeping, instead of sticking with the immeasurable subtleties of the brush – whose prodigies, I insist, he had seen up close in the unique handling of Guignard, master is friend.

In effect, when Amilcar was chosen strategically, at the time, at the other end of the spectrum of arts in Brazil – the opposite end to which Amilcar headed –, the virtuosic program was being carried out, a return to marble in sculpture and a return to , in painting, brush and canvas. It consisted of a path equivalent to that which in the early days of the first European post-war period, after the devastation of the 1914-1918 war and the October Revolution, had been called the path of the “return to order”.

In Brazil, in the 1980s, two artists of unique excellence and masterful mastery of the craft – both active at the same time as Amilcar – led, at the time, the process of auratic restoration of the art object: the sculptor Sérgio Camargo (1930 – 1990) and the painter Iberê Camargo (1914 – 1994) – this one, incidentally, was a former student of Guignard in Rio de Janeiro. Amilcar de Castro therefore knew clearly and distinctly what he wanted when he chose the opposite direction. He had convictions about, as well as his own and historical experience, about the art world and its social and historical limits.

Invited, at the end of 1963, to carry out the scenography of Mangueira for the 1964 carnival, Amilcar called to help him, in addition to the Paraíba sculptor Jackson Ribeiro (1928 – 1997), Hélio Oiticica, who was in charge of painting an allegory.[viii] Oiticica also knew what he wanted and what side he was on, in the troubled country – due to the armed civil-military coup perpetrated 16 months earlier – when he invited the passistas from Mangueira to attend the gala opening of the exhibition Opinion-65 (12.08.1965, MAM-RJ), in which they were all barred by the museum's board, wearing black-tie.

Politically aligned when he was a student in Belo Horizonte, at UFMG, with the Democratic Left (the embryo from which the historic PSB was formed shortly afterwards),[ix] and staunch opponent of the civil-military coup of 1964,[X] Amilcar de Castro also had a clear side or party in the arts: that of anti art, which included, among others, Mário Pedrosa, Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark (who, by the way, had been his friend since his classes with Guignard).

Indeed, the notion of anti art was constituted in the midst of the radical democratization movement of Brazilian culture, generated in response to the civil-military coup of 1964. The radicalization of the extensive protest, which incisively shaped the physiognomy of the arts and Brazilian criticism in the period,[xi] took, in the field of visual arts, the specific and proper form of anti art. Pedrosa welcomed the process in the following terms:

“We are now in another cycle, which is no longer purely artistic, but cultural, radically different from the previous one (…) I would call this new cycle of anti-art vocation 'post-modern art'. (By the way, let's say here that this time Brazil participates in it not as a modest follower, but as a precursor (...) ). [xii]

The critical course that engendered the anti art went through historical criticism materialistic quality class to the assumptions and parameters of neoconcretism, and moved on. In close dialogue with Cinema Novo, this current aimed at the critical reconstruction of the realism and a new one epic, radical and broad spectrum, as described above. In that sense, the notion of anti art composes a whole, in the Brazilian visual arts, with the notion of “environmental art”, as well as with the manifesto-program of the New Brazilian Objectivity, as well as with the critique of all “conditions”, including those directly referring to the art object as an “intellectual domain instrument”.[xiii]

In response to the civil-military coup, a state of symbolic civil war was established in the arts and in Brazilian critical thinking. In addition to the critique of the metaphysics of the art object, it was included in the program of the anti art an anthropological and cultural political alliance with the popular sectors that were victims of apartheid.[xiv]

Amilcar pursued similar objectives, including through his pedagogical activity, as demonstrated by his efforts to create an experimental open-access course in 1979 at the Guignard School, which operated until 1982; and then his interest in conceiving and directing an arts and crafts school for children of workers, in the industrial center of Contagem, for which he obtained the concrete support of the National Institute of Plastic Arts, of FUNARTE; effort finally frustrated, due to the local city hall giving up, in 1984, despite the donations of equipment obtained and already in possession.[xv]


To conclude, I would like to refer once more to the architecture of Mendes da Rocha and the possibility posed, between the exhibition and the architecture of the MuBE, of looking at one work through another. In this sense, much of what I highlighted about this museum could also be attributed to the SESC 24 de Maio project (2017), also by Mendes da Rocha.

Fig 43 Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB, SESC 24 de Maio ramps, PMR office archive, ca. 2018

Fig 44 Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB, stairs to the stage (at the end of the ramp not visible in the photo), SESC 24 de Maio theater, in the basement, archive of the PMR office, ca. 2018

The passerby who, from the street, enters the entrance hall of the SESC 24 de Maio building can walk in continuous floor and flow, if you want (and it is not eventually interrupted by an obstacle not foreseen in the project), to the top of the building where the swimming pool is located, wide and uncovered, for workers enrolled in the SESC (see Fig 46) . or the hiker can, alternatively, go underground and, equally on continuous floor, go up to the stage of the large theater (see Fig.44).

Fig 45 Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB, Water mirror next to the cafe, under the pool, SESC 24 de Maio, photo Ana Mello, MMBB archive

Fig 46 Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB, Swimming pool on the roof, SESC 24 de Maio, photo Nelson Kon, MMBB archive

Fig 47 Paulo Mendes da Rocha and MMBB, cutting ramps, SESC 24 de Maio, MMBB archive

Fig 48 Drawing by Amilcar de Castro, detail of the 12 m frieze, MuBE basement, LRM photo, 2021

Fig 49 Drawing by Amilcar de Castro, 12 m frieze, MuBE basement, LRM photo, 2021

The fluidity and the collective content of the developments proposed in such devices are related to the two long friezes (2 x 12 m), in this show, back to back, drawn by Amilcar. They constitute (see Fig 38 e Fig 48, above) the two major graphic works in this exhibition. They are, like the MuBE – and SESC – projects, festive works, and perhaps premonitory or anticipatory.

It is a fact that one often finds in Amilcar's drawings an air of jubilation and effusion, of a party or dance in the workshop or on the construction site. In the case of one of the friezes in question, however, what is more distinguishable, in addition to the large scale – unusual in a drawing – is a succession of linked Vs, made with the broom that goes up and down repeatedly, while the sweeper walks (for about 12 m) or evolves rhythmically, repeating movements – who knows, carried away by some memory of Mangueira…? –, in a kind of squandering or feasting of matter (the black ink laced with the welcoming white surface). Amidst the Vs (were they arms raised?), red triangles (unfurled streamers?).

Fig 50 Drawing by Amilcar de Castro, detail of the 12 m frieze, MuBE basement, LRM photo, 2021

Was it the dreamed headline of a newspaper to come out someday, who knows when? But the fact is that the joy spilled over into the playful gesture, exaltedly repeated by the “graph”, it is undisguised and moving. It points in the same direction as fluidity devices for the hiker and collective use, designed by Mendes da Rocha.

Both are waiting, but already ready: they prepare a future society, in seed, but already greeted in advance, one would say, by the red pennants, arranged by the graphic... In one way or another, the stripped and The unfinished air of such works can be explained: sculptures, drawings and architecture are waiting for a world to complete them. They are like whispers left – Benjamin would say – from one generation to the next and waiting to be rescued.

*Luiz Renato Martins he is professor-advisor of PPG in Economic History (FFLCH-USP) and Visual Arts (ECA-USP); and author, among other books, of The Long Roots of Formalism in Brazil (Chicago, Haymarket/ HMBS).

Review, research assistance and image editing: Gustavo Motta.

Second part of unpublished text, for the exhibition catalog Amilcar de Castro in the Fold of the World, curated by Guilherme Wisnik, Rodrigo de Castro and Galciani Neves, São Paulo, MuBE, 11.03 – 26.09.2021.

To read the first part click on


Alves, José Francisco, “A critical biography of Amilcar de Castro”, in idem, Amilcar de Castro / A Retrospective, foreword by Paulo Sérgio Duarte, Porto Alegre, Mercosul Visual Arts Biennial Foundation, 2005;

AMARAL, Aracy (supervision and coordination), Brazilian Constructive Project in Art (1950-1962), anthology and exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, layout Amilcar de Castro, Rio de Janeiro, Museum of Modern Art/ São Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado, 1977.

Benjamin, Walter, The Work of Art in the Time of its Technical Reproducibility (second version), presentation, translation and notes Francisco de Ambrosis Pinheiro Machado, Porto Alegre, ed. Zouk, 2012;

_________, About the concept of history [1940], in Michael LÖWY, Walter Benjamin: Fire Warning – A Reading of the Theses “On the Concept of History”, trans. general Wanda NC Brant, trans. the theses Jeanne Marie Gagnebin and Marcos Lutz Müller, São Paulo, Boitempo, 2005;

BRITO, Ronaldo (ed. and cur.), Amilcar de Castro, catalog of exp. 11.12.1999 – 26.03.2000, Rio de Janeiro, Hélio Oiticica Art Center, 1999;

____________, Amilcar de Castro, photos Rômulo Fialdini, São Paulo, Takano, 2001;

BUZZAR, Miguel Antonio; CORDIDO, Maria Tereza de Barros; and SIMONI, Lucia Noemia, “The modern architecture produced from the action plan of the Carvalho Pinto government – ​​PAGE (1959/1963)”, in Urban Arch., no. 14, second half of 2015, São Paulo, São Judas Tadeu University, pp. 157-70;

CASTRO, Amilcar, Amilcar de Castro/ Poems, Augusto Sérgio BASTOS (org.), preface F. Gullar, Belo Horizonte, Instituto Amilcar de Castro;

CASTRO, Rodrigo de (curatorship and text), Amilcar de Castro: Studies and Works, exp catalog. 2013-14, MuBA / Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo, São Paulo, Institute of Contemporary Art, 2014;

CHIARELLI, Tadeu, “Amilcar de Castro: effective and affective dialogues with the world”, in idem; Rodrigo de CASTRO; Marília RAZUK (eds.), Amilcar de Castro: Cut and Fold, São Paulo, Cosac & Naify, 2003, pp. 16-21, available at: .

Costa, Lucio, “Brasília: descriptive memorial of the Plano Piloto de Brasília, winning project of the national public tender” (1957), in idem, About Architecture, Alberto Xavier (org.), 2nd edition. coord. by Anna Paula Cortez, Porto Alegre, UniRitter Ed., 2007 (Facsimile edition by L. Costa, about architecture, Alberto Xavier (org.), Porto Alegre, UFRGS, 1962);

DIAS, Antonio, “In Conversation: Nadja von Tilinsky + Antonio Dias”, in Vv. Aa.. Antonio Dias: Works / Arbeiten / Works 1967-1994, Darmstadt/ São Paulo, Cantz Verlag/ Paço das Artes, 1994, pp. 50-64;

_________, “Project-Book – 10 Plans for Open Projects”, notes for the album What the series is about? (by Antonio Dias), in Antonio Dias, Anthony Dias, texts by Achille Bonito Oliva and Paulo Sergio Duarte, São Paulo, Cosac Naify/APC, 2015, pp. 94-7;

DUARTE, Paulo Sérgio, “Amilcar de Castro or the adventure of coherence”, in New CEBRAP Studies, nº 28, São Paulo, Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning, October 1990;

Gullar, Ferreira, “The creative lightning”, in Augusto Sérgio BASTOS (org.), Amilcar de Castro/ Poems, preface F. Gullar, Belo Horizonte, Instituto Amilcar de Castro;

_________, “Non-Object Theory” [1960], in Aracy AMARAL (supervision and coordination), Brazilian Constructive Project in Art (1950-1962), Rio de Janeiro, Museum of Modern Art; São Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado, 1977, pp. 85-94;

MARTINS, Luiz Renato, “From Tarsila to Oiticica: space occupation strategies in Brazil”, in Left Bank – Marxist essays, no. 2, São Paulo, Boitempo, November 2003, pp. 151-162 (revised and published as “Strategies of Occupying Space in Brazil, from Tarsila to Oiticica”, in idem, The Long Roots of Formalism in Brazil, ed. by Juan Grigera, transl. by Renato Rezende, intro. by Alex Potts, Chicago, Haymarket/Historical Materialism Book Series, p. 15-26);

_________, “Forma-libre: brasileño mode of abstraction or the malaise in history”, in Verónica Hernández DÍAZ (ed.), XXXV International Colloquium on the History of Art. Continuous / Discontinuous. The Dilemas of the History of Art in Latin America, Mexico, Institute of Aesthetic Investigations – Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2017, p. 209-229 (revised and published as “'Free Form': Brazilian Mode of Abstraction or a Malaise in History”, in idem, The Long Roots of Formalism in Brazil, ed. by Juan Grigera, transl. by Renato Rezende, intro. by Alex Potts, Chicago, Haymarket/Historical Materialism Book Series, pp. 27-43);

_________, “Far Beyond Pure Form” (afterword), in Neil DAVIDSON, Uneven and Combined Development: Modernity, Modernism and Permanent Revolution, org. and critical review by LR Martins, introduction by Steve Edwards, preface by Ricardo Antunes, trans. Pedro Rocha de Oliveira, São Paulo, Editora Unifesp/ Ideias Baratas, 2020, pp. 283-348;

MARTINS, Sérgio Bruno, “Between phenomenology and historicism: Amilcar de Castro as a blind spot in the theory of the non-object”, in New CEBRAP Studies, nº 104, São Paulo, Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning, March 2016, pp. 195-207;

Motta, Gustavo, On the Razor's Edge - Diagrams of Brazilian Art: from 'Environmental Program' to the Model Economy, master's thesis, São Paulo, Graduate Program in Visual Arts, School of Communications and Arts (ECA), University of São Paulo (USP), 2011, pp. 169-81, available at: ;

NAVES, Rodrigo, “Amilcar de Castro: risk material”, in idem, The Difficult Form: Essays on Brazilian Art [1996], São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 2011, pp. 233-60;

OITICICA, Hélio, “Appearance of the Suprasensorial”, in idem, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. César Oiticica Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Beco do Azougue, 2011, pp. 105-110;

_________, “General Scheme of the New Objectivity”, in Vv. Aa., New Brazilian Objectivity, catalogue, Mario Barata (pref.), Rio de Janeiro, A. Cruz graphics, 1967, pp. 4-18 – unnumbered; rep. in H. OITICICA, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. César Oiticica Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Beco do Azougue, 2011, pp. 87-101;

_________, “July 1966 / Position and Program / Environmental Program” [1966], in idem, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. César Oiticica Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Beco do Azougue, 2011, pp. 79-85;

_________, “Special for Antonio Dias' Project-Book” (Aug. 6-12, 1969 – London), in Antonio Dias, Anthony Dias, texts by Achille Bonito Oliva and Paulo Sergio Duarte, São Paulo, Cosac Naify/APC, 2015, pp. 94-7;

_________, “Tropália, March 4, 1968”, in idem, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. César Oiticica Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Beco do Azougue, 2011, pp. 108-110.

PEDROSA, Mário, “Environmental Art, Post-Modern Art, Hélio Oiticica” [1966], in idem, From Portinari's Murals to Brasília's Spaces, org. Aracy Amaral, São Paulo, Perspectiva, 1981, pp. 205-209;

_________, “The work of Lygia Clark” [1963], in idem, Scholars and Moderns: Selected Texts, vol III, org. and apres. Otília Arantes, São Paulo, Edusp, 1995, pp. 347-354;

_________, “Lygia Clark's Meaning” [1960], in idem, From Portinari's Murals to Brasília's Spaces, org. Aracy Amaral, São Paulo, Perspectiva, 1981, pp. 195-204;

PISANI, Daniele, Paulo Mendes da Rocha: complete work, photographs by Leonardo Finotti, São Paulo, Gustavo Gili, 2013;

RECAMAN, Luiz, Oscar Niemeyer, Architectural Form and the City in Modern Brazil, doctoral thesis, supervision Celso Fernando Favaretto, dept. of Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, 2002;

_________, “Form without utopia”, in Elisabeta Andreoli and Adrian Forty (eds.), Brazilian Modern Architecture, London, Phaidon Press Limited, 2004, pp. 106-39;

SALZSTEIN, Sonia, “Construction, deconstruction: The legacy of neoconcretism”, in New CEBRAP Studies, nº 90, São Paulo, Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning, July 2011, pp. 103-113;

SAMPAIO, Márcio, “Life and Art: a poetics under construction”, in Ronaldo BRITO (ed.), Amilcar de Castro, São Paulo, Takano, 2001;

SANTANA, José Carlos, “Amilcar de Castro plays with matter in a new exhibition”, in “Notable Encounters/ Culture/ Caderno2” (year IX Number 4, 107, Saturday, 09.05.1998), The State of S. Paul, pp. D1 and D11;

SCHWARZ, Roberto, “Culture and Politics: 1964 – 1969” [1970], in idem, The Father of the Family and Other Studies, São Paulo, Paz e Terra, 1992, pp. 61-92; pub. original: “Remarques sur la culture et la politique au Brésil, 1964 – 1969”, in revue Modern Times, nº 288, Paris, Presses d'aujourd'hui, juillet 1970, pp. 37-73;

SOBOUL, Albert, The French Revolution, Paris, Gallimard, 2000;

TARABOUKINE, Nikolaï, « Du Chevalet à la Machine » [1923], in idem, Le Dernier Tableau/ Du Chevalet à la Machine/ Pour une Théorie de la Peinture/ Écrits sur l'art et l'histoire de l'art à l'époque du constructivisme russe, gifts to AB Nakov, trans. du russe by Michel Pétris and Andrei B. Nakov, Paris, editions Champ Libre, 1980;

TASSINARI, Alberto (org.), Amilcar de Castro, text by Rodrigo Naves, essay by Ronaldo Brito, photographs by Pedro Franciosi, São Paulo, Cosac & Naify, 1997.


Bargmann NETTO, Luiz (right), Architectural Conception of the Project – Brazilian Museum of Sculpture and Ecology (video, 21'37'', 1989-90, part of the project “Assessment of the production process of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (MuBE) SP: from design to use”, academic coordinator Prof. Dr. Sheila Walbe Ornstein, FAU- USP/FAPESP), available at:>;

________________, The Building of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture – Structural Conception (video, 24'44'', 1989-90, part of the project “Assessment of the production process of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture (MuBE) SP …”, op. cit., available at: ;

CLARO, Amílcar M. (right), The Poetics of Iron (general director Sandra Regina Cassettari, video, 22'08'', STV/SESC/SENAC, 2000);

COELHO, Feli (right), Amilcar de Castro (video, 28'10'', Trade Comunicação, 1998);

COSTA, Nélio (right). Amilcar de Castro (video, MG, 3'01”, 1999);

Oliveira, André Luiz (right), Amilcar de Castro – a video by André Luiz Oliveira  (video, Brasilia, CCBB, 7'54'', 2000);

Penna, Joao Vargas (right), Amilcar de Castro (Belo Horizonte, Projeto Memória Viva/ Secretaria da Cultura de Belo Horizonte, 12'49”, 1992, available at:>.

I would like to thank the solidarity transfer of images and documents to the architecture offices Paulo Mendes da Rocha (Eliane Duarte Alves and Helene Afanasieff) and MMBB (Marta Moreira); to Instituto Amilcar de Castro (Leonardo de Castro Cesar) and MuBE (Galciani Neves, Guile Wisnik and Rodrigo de Castro, curators; Pedro Carpinelli and Mr. Edson, assistant directors; Flavia Velloso, museum director); José Resende and Daniele Pisani.


[I] See Chico Buarque de Holanda, Behind the door (1972). The verse of the song says, strictly speaking, “I adore you inside out”.

[ii] For an interesting example of Amilcar's way of drawing using a broom, see excerpt 13'28” – 14'32”, from the video by Amílcar M. CLARO, The Poetics of Iron (general director Sandra Regina Cassettari, video, 22'08'', STV/SESC/SENAC, 2000).

[iii] To refute the notion of “inspiration” and the “terrible need” at the root of the artistic act, see Amilcar's interviews in João Vargas Penna's videos, Amilcar de Castro (Belo Horizonte, Projeto Memória Viva/ Secretaria da Cultura de Belo Horizonte, 12'49”, 1992), excerpt between points: 1'04” to 1'19”, available at:>; see also the video by Nélio Costa, Amilcar de Castro (video, MG, 3'01”, 1999), excerpt from 2'28''; see also the video by André Luiz Oliveira, Amilcar de Castro – a video by André Luiz Oliveira  (video, Brasília, CCBB, 7'54'', 2000), excerpt from 6'53''.

[iv] For the reference to “joy”, as opposed to claims of “inspiration” and “terrible necessity”, see also Amilcar's interviews in JV Penna's videos, op. cit., stretch between points 1'46'' and 2'08”; On the central role of “joy” in the production process, see also N. Costa, on. cit., same section as above.

[v] Cf. Ferreira Gullar, “The creative lightning”, in Augusto Sérgio BASTOS (org.), Amilcar de Castro/ Poems, preface F. Gullar, Belo Horizonte, Instituto Amilcar de Castro, p. 27.

[vi] apud Albert SOBOUL, The French Revolution, Paris, Gallimard, 2000, p. 349.

[vii] Cf. Nikolaï TARABOUKINE, « Du Chevalet à la Machine » [1923], in idem, Le Dernier Tableau/ Du Chevalet à la Machine/ Pour une Théorie de la Peinture/ Écrits sur l'art et l'histoire de l'art à l'époque du constructivisme russe, gifts to AB Nakov, trans. du russe par Michel Pétris et Andrei B. Nakov, Paris, editions Champ Libre, 1980, pp. 53-4.

[viii] On Amilcar's collaboration with the Estação Primeira de Mangueira Samba School, see M. Sampaio,  on. cit., P. 218. For my part, I also heard, on the initiative and in the words of Amilcar himself, during a personal conversation in his studio, the account of his collaboration with Mangueira and the invitation made to Oiticica at the time.

[ix] This group included, among the most illustrious names of the time in the legal and political world – such as the jurist and deputy João Mangabeira (1880 – 1964), future president of the PSB –, some contemporaries of Amilcar whose works and achievements, closer to his work , became decisive for understanding the country, and come in handy in this framework of historical references: Aziz Simão (1912 – 1990), Paulo Emílio Sales Gomes (1916 – 1977), Antonio Candido (1918 – 2017), in addition to others from the previous generation: Sergio Milliet (1898 – 1966), Paulo Duarte (1899 – 1984), Sérgio Buarque de Holanda (1902 – 1982) etc. See Maria Vitória Benevides, entry “Democratic Left”, available in . By the way, Amilcar's original link with such a group, since the times of his formation in Belo Horizonte, demonstrates that the declared alignment, mentioned above, of Amilcar with Lula's presidential candidacy, in 1998, far from being untimely, was inherent to the historical trajectory of the ED political group, whose members, several, also came to align themselves, in the 1980s and 1990s, with the PT: Antonio Candido, Sérgio Buarque, etc., not to mention those closest to Amilcar, among these, Mário Pedrosa (founder of the PT), who was also a member of the ED and then the PSB, until its ban in 1965.

[X] In 1998, the same year in which he expressed his rejection of FHC (see note XXVIII of the first part, above), Amilcar, during an interview filmed for the video (on display at the show) by Feli Coelho, stated about the civil-military coup: “[19]64 came, it was all over. It ended, it ended, it devastated… It was […] that until today it is destroyed… It was a pity, right? It was going really well” [for beginning of section, see point: 13'54'']. In contrast, the pre-coup period was described in the following terms: “A fabulous moment for Brazil (…) Juscelino, Newspapers in Brazil, concrete movement, neoconcrete, Brasilia, seething... That called the whole country, moved the whole country, in every way: engineering, architecture... the devil... brick making, everything you think about building worked very hard” [ for the beginning of the stretch, see point: 13'25''], see Feli Coelho, Amilcar de Castro (video, 28'10'', Trade Comunicação, 1998).

[xi] See R. SCHWARZ, “Culture and Politics…”, op. cit.; see also LR MARTINS, “Much beyond the form…”, op. quote..

[xii] Cf. M. Pedrosa, “Environmental Art…..”, op. cit., p. 205

[xiii] See H. Oiticica, “Appearance of the Suprasensorial” (November-December 1967), in idem, Museum is…, org. César Oiticica Filho, op. cit., p. 107.

[xiv] See also as a decisive development of the manifesto-program of the New Brazilian Objectivity, and a broad anthropological and political clarification of the anti-conformist platform of the anti art, H. OITICICA, “Tropália, March 4, 1968”, in idem, Museum is…, pp. 108-110.

[xv] See M. Sampaio, on. cit., P. 225-28; see also José Francisco Alves, “A critical biography of Amilcar de Castro”, in idem, Amilcar de Castro / A Retrospective, preface by Paulo Sérgio Duarte, Porto Alegre, Fundação Bienal de Artes Visuais do Mercosul, 2005, p. 145.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad