Amilcar on MuBE

Whatsapp
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Telegram

By LUIZ RENATO MARTINS*

Comment on the show on display until September 26, 2021.

“The past carries with it a secret index by which it is referred to redemption. Doesn't a breath of air caress us slightly, which enveloped those who preceded us? Doesn't the voices to which we listen resound an echo of those that are now silent? (...) If so, a secret meeting is then arranged between past generations and ours. . This claim cannot be dismissed without cost.” (Walter Benjamin, “Thesis II”, On the Concept of History).

“To articulate the past historically does not mean to know it 'as it really was'. It means taking hold of a memory as it flashes in an instant of danger. It is important for historical materialism to capture an image of the past as it unexpectedly presents itself to the historical subject at the moment of danger. The danger threatens both the given content of tradition and its addressees.(…) In each era it is necessary to try to tear the transmission of tradition away from the conformism that is on the verge of subjugating it.(…)” (Idem, “Thesis VI” ) [1].

An exhibition and its surroundings

I begin with the project by Paulo Mendes da Rocha (1928-2021) for the MuBE, where the exhibition of works by Amilcar de Castro (1920-2002) is now installed. What does this architecture provide to the works of Amilcar de Castro? Is it possible to dissociate them? Or, instead, go to one through the other?

As the architect declared at the beginning of the museum's construction, the project aimed to simplify the building and prioritize the presence and formal singularities of the works to be exhibited – “and not compete with them”.[I] In fact, simplicity is manifested in the concrete elements implanted at the surface of the earth: a large esplanade consisting of a square and a garden welcomes the visitor and immediately allows a view of the roads and vehicles of the current city, around it. A single architectural reference, stripped down and essential, qualifies it: two discreet concrete pillar-walls support, over an area with levels at different levels, a light and extensive beam – suggestively endowed with a low ceiling height (2,37 m), and , measuring 4,30 m, on another level – which also appears as a slab and marquee.

Fig 1 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, MuBE sketch, ca. 1986, MuBE archive

Fig 2 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, MuBE sketch, ca. 1986, file Daniele Pisani

Despite alluding to a primitive building or monument (designated with grace by the architect, as “monolith” or “a stone in the sky”),[ii] the simplicity of the scheme does not lead the observer ahistorically astray. Because the austere vigor of the construct soon alerts to the importance of the technical development that allowed the primordial architectural scheme – when reinterpreted today – to expand to the proposed unique scale (printed in the lightness of the marquee-slab, in the slender pillars and in the 60 m) and synthesize two such different temporalities into a single solution, no less reflective for that. After the synthesis, the set – composed of the flagstone-marquise (which evokes a sober and egalitarian portico) and the esplanade – asserts itself as a structure intended for collective use.

polis cells

In effect, the MuBE set has nothing of an inhospitable parade of arms – with smooth ground (for troops and vehicles) where occasional visitors become tiny and dispersed figures (in contrast, see the Latin America Memorial, in Barra Funda ). On the contrary, at MuBE, the square-esplanade that tops the installations (exhibition spaces, offices, etc.) gathers visitors, with a welcoming scale. At the entrance, there is, immediately, a lateral access, on the left, which leads straight to the esplanade; but there is also (unless you want to go straight to the underground spaces) an alternative access to the esplanade, on the right, passing, first, through a rectangular platform in the form of an arena, partially covered by a marquee and articulated to a staggered floor in gentle slope.

Capable of also functioning as a grandstand, the staircase offers seating for the public, in front of the space under the shelter of the portico-slab in the form of a straight and austere marquee. Well seen from the seats and the arena floor in front, the open-air set-up forms a compact and comfortable form of , of sand and agora.[iii]

Fig 3 Paulo Mendes da Rocha, MuBE sketch, ca. 1986, MuBE archive

Fig 4 MuBE: esplanade, open theater and marquee, LRM photo, 2021

pediment of passers-by

Therefore, the simple and fair portico defines and distinguishes the place. It also garnishes and celebrates the visitor – as an equal among others. One by one, the items show themselves as stripped and essentially horizontal equipment – ​​welcoming and with a republican air. For the visitor, they offer a discreet point of civil enjoyment and collective shelter amidst the flow of vehicles around.

Fig. 5, 6, 7 MuBE: view from the esplanade, with sculptures by Amilcar de Castro, LRM photos, 2021

Simultaneously with the empirical discovery of the permanent circulation in the capitalist city, the set presents and brings, as in a demonstrated and close didactic scheme, the scene of the founding of politics, as art and the city's main purpose. Thus, solemnly and discreetly, each visitor – when passing under the marquee-portico – is as if taken to integrate the pediment for a moment, in full view of the others. Here is the republic, arranged in space as a scene and arena, in which everyone can be at the front and occupy the center.

Education and point of view

Indeed, there are projects that conceive spectacular volumes of restricted occupation, for privileged use, while others prepare spaces for spontaneous use: that is, free time capsules for unpredictable and anonymous use, as part of the urban whole. The mode of reasoning discreetly exercised in the MuBE project (severe and, nevertheless, lyrical) is one of the latter.

With such a description and summary, I do not want to emphasize an author's psychological disposition, but rather a certain background and the historical perspective involved, which propose the programmatic priority of designing for the collective. Hence the generally structuring role of the walker's perspective in Mendes da Rocha's projects, as well as, seen from another angle, the larger site or the horizon in which they are inscribed: the inhabited city, rather than the empty surroundings.

comparative recoil

A comparative retreat makes it possible to objectively understand the historical formation of this type of point of view. Starting the comparison with the priority given to the urban environment: the generation before Mendes da Rocha, founder of modern Brazilian architecture (and professionally constituted after the 1930 revolution, except for the dean Lúcio Costa [1902 – 1998]), dedicated themselves to , in the wake of São Paulo's modernism of 1922 (pau-brasil movement and others), to distinguish and affirm the traits of the then supposed national identity.[iv]

Thus, the two most representative architects of the current, Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer (1907 – 2012), usually referred to aspects fixed in the colonial period. Perhaps the most illustrative case was that of Lúcio Costa's memorial for the Brasilia Pilot Plan competition (1957).[v] But it is far from being the only one, perhaps due to the urge to avoid reducing Brazilian modern architecture to the notorious and proclaimed external root: the “new architecture”, by Le Corbusier (1887 – 1965), whose example and patronage were simultaneously claimed as gene and current index, depending on the international compass.

In this way, it can be noted that Costa and Niemeyer's projects reproduce elements (porches, chapels, etc.) of the mansions of large rural landowners with programmatic constancy, that is, of the so-called big house, isolated in the landscape – but not only that. They also reproduce traces of the lexicon of the religious baroque and reiterate the rural setting of the buildings – as, incidentally, is the case of the palaces in Brasília.[vi] The synthesis of such a work plan can be found in the markedly anti-urban content of such projects, as already highlighted by Luiz Recamán.[vii]

walk in the city

When associated with the point of view of the urban walker, the new mobility from Mendes da Rocha's perspective stands out from the previously prevalent static and agrarian angle. The non-nationalist and disjunctive point of view that emerges ventilates a feeling of space inherent to collective visual mobility, proper to the transit of labor, in incessant circulation, as well as linked to a new historical temporality.

The intellectual environment and key features of this vision can be traced through the impact of some books that prepared, in the atmosphere of the period, the ground-floor and anti-colonialist point of view, bringing memories, reports and reflections inherent to the ground-floor perspective: Hunger Geography (1948) and Geopolitics of Hunger (1951), by Josué de Castro, and Severe Death and Life (1955), by João Cabral de Melo Neto, in Brazil; It is Black Skin, White Masks (1951) by Frantz Fanon.

However, more than readings, certain historical facts shape horizons. The first architectural project by Mendes da Rocha awarded in a public competition – that of the sports gymnasium at the Clube Atlético Paulistano (1958, São Paulo), with the structure exposed like an insect, or rather like a guerrilla fighter, with weapons in tow – engendered This was in the midst of the struggle for Algerian independence (1954-62), which, in turn, was already in the wake of the capitulation of the French army, in May 1954, to the Vietnamese anti-colonial forces, in Dien Bien Phu.

Thinking from the ground

The architectural generation of Mendes da Rocha and others who would come to compose the so-called “São Paulo school” (of modern Brazilian architecture), in addition to specialized training, on the job,[viii] historically constituted in the light of the victory of the Cuban revolution which, born in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, entered Havana with acclaim on January 1, 1959, after the dictator's flight. In light of the strategic triumph of insurrections, which targeted and conquered the ground, the absolute primacy of air warfare and bombing (which had technologically sealed the outcome of World War II) fell away; at the same time, the urbanistic favor of the tabula rasa model, claimed since the beginnings of modern urban planning, like the Haussmann plan (1852-70) for Paris, also declined.

On the other hand, the popular war actions against the occupier won the favor and interest of international opinion, on a geographic scale – that is, guided by immersion in the terrain, by the action of the combatant on foot, by pedestrian mobility, etc. Similarly, new feelings of space emerged in the world from various parts, linked to new landscapes and new floors. Correspondingly, in the case of urban conceptions, the pseudo-universal and Eurocentric criteria, current in pre-war modern architecture, were questioned.

In short, the dawn of a utopian sense of space dawned. The esplanades cannot be dissociated from the then nascent conceptions of the world; generous accesses and wide ramps; the bleachers and welcoming staircases – easily interchangeable with each other –; the amphitheater forms; and the ground floors shaped like squares and squares, in direct communication with the public promenade. They have the value of equipment with the primary function of welcoming the citizen and, even more, the walker. They bear marks of origin and historical expectations that are not those of today's technological societies – of control and telesurveillance, via the omnipresence of watchtowers, disguised lenses and radars and mediator-monitors. But, first, they offer spaces for the anonymous citizen, conducive to plural, independent and creative forms of spontaneity.

Despite the fact that the concrete urban reality became – after 1964 in Brazil, and 1968 in the world – increasingly unequal and hostile, the critical and creative power of Mendes da Rocha's architecture and its organic connection to citizenship withstood the siege. They maintained, in short, the desired architectural design, implanted in the midst of the flows and mixtures of the inhabited city. Thus, the two crucial aspects that I highlighted in relation to this conception of architecture, the walker's angle and the urban situation – potentiated by random encounters and democratic expectations – remained active and placed in reciprocity from the ground up. Therefore, in sharp contrast with the empty surroundings and the visuality (contemplative or of forms) inherent to the voids – usual in the non-urban order.

See: from head to toe and vice versa

I followed what the place – “the spirit of the place” (the genius loci, as they used to say in ancient Rome) – proposes to the visitor. But I didn't make a lap without profit. Indeed, to deal with the works of Amilcar de Castro at the MuBE, how can we close our eyes to the affinity between the great sculptures and the architectural site? And more: how to formulate in argument the feeling that, in front of the large-format iron sculptures, installed on the esplanade, the act of seeing includes the awareness of the ground? That is to say, it takes place as an act of vision combined with a tectonic sensation – because in fact it circulates or radiates incessantly from head to toe and from there to head, as if mimetically animated by the collision of the sculpture and the ground. Finally, seeing, here, is inseparable from mimicking effort or strength – the thrust of the ground under one's feet.[ix]

Fig. 8 and 9 Sculptures by Amilcar de Castro on the MuBE esplanade, LRM photos, 2021

Doors and windows

Consequently, it is imperative to take the tectonic dynamics as a crucial vector of such sculptures. However, such dynamics are inseparable from two functions negative, articulated to its axis: the “door” one, referred to above, and eventually the “window” one, depending on the position of the cut in the steel.

Faced with the tectonic vector, both certainly intervene negatively, sometimes cracking and sometimes tearing the thick sheets of iron or corten steel. In this way, the large-format sculptures sometimes speak to the body, sometimes speak to the eyes, sometimes to both simultaneously: not only do they open up and offer crevices, crevices or passages to the walker-observer, but also propose scenes and landscapes, cutouts and visual alternatives.

Fig. 10 and 11 Sculptures by Amilcar de Castro on the MuBE esplanade, LRM photos, 2021

participation on foot

The regime of reception here continues to be that of participation,[X] dear to neoconcretism, whose manifesto (1959) Amilcar de Castro appears as the first signatory (in alphabetical order), as published on the cover of the Sunday Supplement do Newspapers in Brazil, displayed at the exhibition. It is known, however, that in the works of Lygia Clark (1920 – 1988) participation in general was associated with manual intervention in the changing structure of objects (for example, in the series of Bichos [1960 – 64], with hinge); while in front of Amilcar's sculptures, participation is almost always linked to the floor (except in the transitional works made in the USA). In this way, the priority given to the mobility of walking resembles Amilcar's mode of participation to that of spatial reliefs and nuclei (1959 – 64), by Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980).[xi]

Fig 12 Lygia Clark, Pocket Bug, aluminum, 1967

Fig 13 Helio Oiticica, Great Core, 1960-66, mounted at Gallery 64, Rio de Janeiro, 1966

It is important to bear in mind that, as in relation to the architectural conception of the MuBE, we find ourselves here on strictly historical ground, therefore, being mediated by a precise tradition. In short, the ways of seeing in the large-format sculptures, enhanced by the openings placed before the passer-by, belong to the history of the democratization of art in Brazil – that is to say, to the democratic desire, according to Benjamin, to see up close and from the inside –, and, therefore, are equally affiliated with the process of overcoming “easel art” (as the Russian constructivists used to say), or “auratic” art, in the Benjaminian sense.[xii]

But, plurality of visions and abundance of possibilities aside, to what, after all, such openings, so-called “doors” and “windows”, come, built through “cuts and folds” – generally considered as the constant operations and characteristics of the continuity of the work of Amilcar de Castro – over fifty years of work?

“To show the totality that exists outside the frame and that invades it from there”

Facing the question of the meaning of the openings requires first reviewing the current and currently accepted thesis about the continuity as it is of the “cut and fold” operations. By the way, there is a parallel (to which we will return later): in June 1994, the painter Antonio Dias (1944 – 2018), from the artistic generation immediately following that of Amilcar de Castro (but a direct partner of Oiticica), faced with the question of an interviewer – on why she used this and that (in this case, geometric shapes combined with words) – replied: “(…) to show this totality that exists outside the frame, and that invades it from there”.[xiii]

From the outset, in relation to the context of the debate on the neoconcrete movement and the related notion of “participation”, the verbal formula coined by the painter, strictly speaking, is late. It corresponds, however, to the verbal recognition and discursive formulation of an operating vector in the structures of his work, from the beginning of his artistic trajectory – begun thirty years earlier (under the traumatic sign of the 1964 coup). In this sense, despite being late, the formula highlights the decisive course of his work; direction from which Dias marked a break or critical shift in the face of neoconcrete art, which preceded him, by appearing in the foreground of the art scene in the exhibition Opinion 65 (Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro – MAM/ RJ, Rio de Janeiro, 12.08 – 12.09.1965).[xiv]

Well, in this case, Dias's compass comes in handy to highlight, also against the pole marked by the works of the neoconcrete cycle and its derivatives, the inflection given and the north of the subsequent works of Amilcar de Castro – distinguished by the increased scale of the scope , iron mass and thickness, which reached unprecedented heights from 1978 onwards compared to the author's previous works.[xv]

I insist: the expression "cut and fold” – with which Amilcar de Castro’s sculptures are generally characterized in critical fortunes – suggests the continuity and strict constancy of his work (1952 – 2002, taking the works on display as a reference). However, without admitting a division and the related distinction, there is no way to establish the effective and historically precise significance of Amilcar de Castro's new works. Because, although the “cut and fold” operations roughly continue, the material base on which they affect is decisively altered – as well as its public insertion, that is, the mode of circulation and its meaning. Why and when did this happen?

Turning-point : a historical cut – in the piece and in the whole of the work

In fact, if at the beginning and throughout the 1950s and 1960s, cuts and folds occurred in the mental space of abstraction and as a function of geometric reasoning – according to the founding lesson of Tripartite Unit (1951), by Max Bill (1908 – 1994), awarded at the I Bienal de S. Paulo (1951)[xvi] – on the other hand, at a certain point, the process emerged decisively altered and distinct.

The emblem of the turnaround is an “open door” on a huge iron plate: the large-format sculpture (450 x 450 x 350 x 5 cm) installed in 1978 at Praça da Sé (central landmark of the city of S. Paulo), inside of a public program for the implantation of 14 sculptures in the square.[xvii]

Fig 14 Amilcar de Castro, Untitled, 1978, iron (sac 50), 450 x 450 x 350 x 5 cm, Praça da Sé, São Paulo, photo Pedro Franciosi

Fig 15 Amilcar de Castro, Untitled, 1978, iron (sac 50), 450 x 450 x 350 x 5 cm, Praça da Sé, São Paulo, photo Folha de S. Paulo

It is true that a previous large-format piece already existed, acquired in 1977 (after it was ready) for the garden of a Caixa Econômica de Minas Gerais branch, in Belo Horizonte.[xviii] In the piece in question, the cut and bend of a circular plate (4 m in diameter) opened a triangular void extended partially to the ground. The three-dimensional volume of the structure was also constituted by means of the cut and folded triangle and its extension. In this way, in the terms of Amilcar's work, the piece, despite its gigantic and unprecedented format, was engendered as before: from a geometric shape (circular, in this case) and according to also geometric unfoldings, like an aporia coated with a concrete and sensitive solution, without losing its paradoxical aspect, distinguishing it from the operations of concrete art (almost always tautological and evident). In one way or another, in such terms, the predominant meaning value of the structure (as well as the internal space it instituted – in this case, the triangle and its reverberations, which, in Minas, is known , are not small – ) about the surroundings.

But it was precisely this correlation that came to be reversed critically the following year, 1978, in the play at Praça da Sé. The critical turnaround was neither small nor far-reaching. In such a piece – conceived through a structure literally similar to an “open door” (in a square iron plate, 4,5 m on a side) – it was established, through the wide opening, the full flow and flow between internal and external space; which, at the same time, deliberate and overt subsumption of the structure – and its internal space – to the surroundings.

By transforming the usual aesthetic relationship, which prevails over the alterity given by the external space (including the participant-observer), this time, into a relationship of fluidity and welcome, the piece brought, together with the new scale (more than 20 m² and the considerable increase in weight), a decisive structural redefinition, embodied in the change of constructive principle. A change equivalent, metaphorically speaking, to changing the energy matrix in a vehicle, whose movement ceases to result from an ejection – by combustion, decompression or similar process (in any case, imposing action) of forces and materials – to come from a wind matrix or solar, according to which the movement comes from the capture and internal re-elaboration of an external energy or force.

Metaphors and allusions aside, concretely, the inversion of the principle translated into a new spatiality – placed according to a structure no longer delineated from geometrical developments and qualities, but rather as an opening or a wide-open “door”. To that extent, various bodies – through their own initiative and action – were allowed to cross together – that is, collectively – inside the piece.

In short, in these terms, an ostensibly open passage was placed in the middle of the square; open, however, for what and for whom? Certainly, it was evident, to use Dias' terms, “that something from outside was invading it”. But, from then on, what did it really mean, escaping or passing to the other side of this installation or iron blade?

Space as historical synthesis and collective good

At that time, the first street demonstrations for the reconstruction of democracy in the country sprouted. After several acts, in previous years, that took place in specific spaces (of unions, universities and churches) – of which two outstanding ones took place in the Cathedral (of Praça) da Sé and in its staircase and immediate surroundings, converting the square into a emblematic of the struggle for democratic freedoms –,[xx] the first student street demonstration, which tried to travel through the center of S. Paulo, broke out on 05.05.1977 (a march against the dictatorship, which left Largo São Francisco, in front of the Faculty of Law, and was stopped by the police, with pumps, on Viaduto do Chá).

At the beginning of 1978 – the year at the end of which the piece was installed in Praça da Sé –, the first open and explicit strikes of metalworkers in the ABC industrial center (at that time the main concentration of workers in the state, which functioned as the locomotive of the Brazilian industrial park). Challenge and confrontation became visible in the ABC, on March 14 of the following year (1979) – the eve of General Figueiredo's inauguration (1918 – 1999) –, when a mass strike broke out, with strong support (about 200 metallurgists). , including workers from major automakers in the automotive sector (Volks, Ford, Mercedes, Scania, etc.) and from auto parts factories.

Thus, through a growing number of irruptions, in streets and factories, in spite of the official agenda, the regime's "slow and gradual opening", the popular process of a democratic rupture, torn by collective force, in the hard fabric of repressive provisions (National Security Law and others). The struggle for the reconstruction of democracy in the country emerged, appropriating the urban space in an unprecedented way. Streets and sidewalks, conquered by the collective march from the police and cars, gained a new meaning. The air that was breathed in the marches (in general, unauthorized) seemed clean, it was new and pulsated in the lungs, with a force of its own. The structural, material and scale inflection of Amilcar de Castro's work is inseparable from such a process, of conquest and collective creation of public space.

In summary, in the artist's sculptures (from then on, mostly in large format), "cuts and folds" were made to respond to a vector of historical and collective meaning, which crossed and bathed the artist's work - condensing, by hypothesis, the social and historical rhythms of the new political space, born of the mass that appropriated the streets and factory yards. The artist came to meet the new and invigorating historical torrent, greeting such flow through his austere iron porticos. In these, as we have seen, the internal space was linked or fraternized with the external space, constituting a new whole, which infused the sculptures with a new spatiality, collectively invented in the confrontation with the repressive forces of the dictatorship.

Fig 16 Sculptures by Amilcar de Castro on the MuBE esplanade, LRM photo, 2021

Fig 17 Sculpture by Amilcar de Castro under the MuBE marquee, photo LRM, 2021

In this way, not only the emergence in the crucial year of 1978, but the development of the new structural spatiality, woven from overcoming the duality – between internal and external space – corresponded rhythmically and objectively to the ongoing movement, although nascent and virtual at that time (1978 ), for the reconstruction of democratic freedoms on a national scale.

Fruit of a historical synthesis, the unified spatiality, constituted in the large-format sculptures, was neither merely empirical nor geometric, but erupted with the edge of the historical and political novelty of the national moment. This was precisely the meaning objectively incorporated by Amilcar de Castro's pieces. The cuts we see in large-format pieces are made from such plasma.

Planted in the ground with epic force, the sculptures, with equal momentum, stand upright in the space (historical and political), posed by the collective struggle. Such a balance is new. It seems paradoxical only for those who only see what in the pieces is the result of weight and not what comes with the wind or with the light. The pieces in the wind float and sail, soaring through the air according to a fruitful temporality of collective historical action. They could only be big as they are – still small, compared to the scale of the collective will against oppression.

Fig 18 Sculptures and drawings by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Fig 19 Detail of the sculpture by Amilcar de Castro and the exposed concrete wall of the MuBE, LRM photo, 2021

In one way or another, this set the course for the historical conjugation reflected and constructed, in the works of Amilcar de Castro, between artistic forms and social and collective forms, in the sense not of the given reality (dictatorial and oppressive), but the desired and collectively projected one – making the sculptures an active and direct part of the movement for democratic freedoms.

From mental space to historical-social totality

In other words, the hypothesis is that “cuts and folds”, carried out throughout the 1980s and 1990s (a historical period concomitant with the base political organization, in principle independent, of the Brazilian working class), were made so that the totality (borrowing Dias’ words, referring to his own work) from outside the work – he invaded it from there.

Hence, the primordial meaning and objective of the new “cuts and folds”: to welcome and let the new Brazilian historical-social formation flow, decisively permeated by the reorganization of the working class, and especially of the metallurgical workers. In summary, the gain in scale and weight of Amilcar de Castro's sculptures was evident and decisive, and cannot be explained or subordinated to the persistence of procedures (cutting and folding). On the contrary, he called for the complete reinvention of such operations.

Undoubtedly, the hypothesis goes against the grain of the tendency rooted in Brazilian historiography, time and time again in taking form as pure – the fact of I think or authorial prerogative –, in any case dissociated from the historical process. Thus, it is assumed to be based on such a key – that of art locked in itself, and for the few – that the “cut and fold” procedures in Amilcar de Castro's work, just as they appeared, lasted indefinitely.[xx] To assume, however, that Amilcar de Castro's work is closed in on itself and completely isolated from the historical and artistic process, shrouded in absolute emptiness, constitutes a contradiction that needs no refutation.

Undoubtedly, there is incontestable evidence of geometric genesis regarding the copper work present in this exhibition (Untitled, 1952, copper, 45 x 45 x 45 cm), prepared by Amilcar for the II Bienal (1953), following the example of Tripartite Unit, by Bill. Certainly, for the young sculptor, such operations were initially based on a purely or exclusively mental dimension.

There are also signs of persistence of the procedures in the following years (including the neoconcrete period), even if already combined with other elements (landscape, materials, narrativity and drama related to the genesis of the form, etc.). There is even a persistence of the geometric content in the operations that were developed during the residency of Amilcar and his family in the USA, during the two Guggenheim fellowships (1968-1971), according to works also present in this exhibition. are works leves, made of stainless steel alloys, characteristically transitional (by means of variant forms of empirical spatialization, around an axis, approximately in the mold of the Bichos, by Lygia Clark), whose main evolutionary follow-up or unfolding to be considered, save for a better judgment, is that they function and are exemplary, even today, as the antipodes of the sculptures in question, in large format and markedly oxidized.

Certainly, in all these cases, the operations (of “cutting and folding”) implied and demonstratively posited geometric postulates. To this end, they developed speculations or findings, extracted from two-dimensional figures (circular, square, triangular shapes, etc.), which were skilfully reworked, without loss or excess, on generally slender supports.

Bring with you the art of opposites

On the other hand, in the cycle of sculptures with remarkable height, thickness and weight, the “cut and fold” operations began to operate negatively – against the tectonic premise of the material –, installing an internal and procedural dialectic, and in a public and historical situation of another content. Tectonics and fluidity, as sculptural qualities, were then arranged, as pointed out, in parallel with the meaning of the cutting and splitting operations practiced in Antonio Dias' pictorial objects. Like the latter, Amilcar's works began to be built on the basis of conflict, acted as an intrinsic power or characteristic of the works.

It is not treated by comparison to determine individual influence or emulation. Rather, to recompose history and its nexuses, and to underline the connection of such works with a larger historical process and a collective project, in which the dialectic of forces (and for good reason, of classes) was worth as the matrix of everything.

Once historically compared and distinguished, “cuts and folds" reveal harmony - even if apparently a posteriori – with the program of “environmental art”, set by Oiticica.[xxx] And they show consonance with the general lines of what was proposed by the latter, in the manifesto-program of the Nova Objetividade Brasileira (1967). Both were propositions that explicitly aimed at the critical reconstruction of realism, combined with a decolonization program, endowed with a broad anthropological and ethnographic spectrum in the long duration of Brazilian visual arts (that is, in pertinent and current terms, even today , almost sixty years later).

Finally, the operations of “cutting and folding” – in the sense of opening spaces in order to give way to reality – develop a similar strategy, for example, to that of Dias’ objects, throughout his series The Illustration of Art (1971–78). In it, Dias methodically introduced, through a rectangular split, gaps that showed the incompleteness of his canvases, installations and planar or three-dimensional objects.

Fig 20 Anthony Dias, The Invented Country, 1976, photo Gabriele Basilico

Fig 21 Anthony Dias, The Illustration of Art / Economy / Model, 1975, photo Nego Miranda

Fig 22 Sculptures by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Similarly, Amilcar's new sculptures – from the cycle that, to summarize, I will now refer to as realistic and epic – came to constitute split and incomplete objects, whose greater meaning, from then on – that is, from the irruption, in the streets and factories, of the movement for democratic freedoms –, consisted of capturing, as if by a sensor device, the historical and collective totality – which, in the words of Dias, “invaded him/her from the outside”.

In summary, the decisive distinction for the matter under discussion and the structural angle of aesthetic reflection resides in the split or recomposition of the unity of objects. Because, in the initial cycle, of geometric extraction, the operations of “cutting and folding” constituted split objects – but only in appearance. Thus, promptly, on another level – namely, in the sphere of receptive synthesis –, the objects completed each other, while rationally intact and one – without, in effect, undoing their intrinsic drama, referring then to the genesis of the form itself, taken as an object. of self-referral. Thus, both – posited, in any case, as explicitly self-referred processes of form constitution – took on the supposed value of autarchic or autonomous entities, in short, singular or special.[xxiii]

On the contrary, in the pieces of the epic-realist cycle, the receptive synthesis is not completed in the strict and detached dimension of the aesthetic process, but, from the spatial synthesis (between the internal and external of the sculptural work), it is projected in the dimension larger, affirming and reengendering relationships with collective social rhythms.

Fig 23 Sculptures by Amilcar de Castro on the MuBE esplanade, LRM photo, 2021

Fig 24 Sculpture and drawing by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Fig 25 Detail of sculptures by Amilcar de Castro and detail of the exposed concrete wall in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

It is only then that the great sculptures are plurally developed in reception, through reflective historical judgment; to, eventually, be completed in their process of signification by means of a third action, that is, of the passer-by (who doesn't even need to know about geometry).[xxiii] In these terms, the process takes place as a practice of deconditioning, in terms that are not at all substantially distant from the “social-environmental” position proposed by Oiticica – that is to say, the one in which the aesthetic object serves the individual to “disalienate”, by objectifying “their ethical-spatial behavior”.[xxv] These terms are also not far from the ethical and political virtues attributed to spatiality, in the architecture of Mendes da Rocha and peers.

To conclude the point, circumscribing it historically: at the time of Amilcar de Castro's productive inflection, it was commonly spoken, on another level, of "authoritarian rubble",[xxiv] to designate the device of repressive laws in the country, created by the dictatorship's jurists (by the way, several former presidents of USP [Gama e Silva, Reale, Buzaid]).

Thus, in a negative way (dialectically speaking, of course), the large masses of the works in question – not always in iron plates, but also in blocks, called “geometric solids”, of smaller stature, thick and compact (often exposed on the floor, as in the MuBE show) – condensed, in terms proper to aesthetic objectivity, not only the rubble, but the reason and purpose of its implantation. They condensed, in other words, the traces of the development of the industrial park, expanded largely as a result of wage compression and income concentration, phenomena leveraged, internally, by the overexploitation of the workforce, based on violent repression, and, externally, by for exports, under an associated dependency regime.

Authoritarian, in this case, was the concentration and developmental logic (“grow the cake, then share it”) of the productive modernization advocated by the economists of the dictatorship and the Brazilian plutocracy that supported it. In such a context, the operations of “cutting and folding” – in the mass of iron – carried, in short, an antithetical sense, equivalent to the collective hope of opening – in the hard debris of repressive laws – a cut and torn passage. Cuts and tears, in this case, made with the edge of organization and collective power by the disruptive actions of the Brazilian working class, contrary to the current tough legislation.

denial and bounce

In summary, some continuity of knowledge and experience in “cut and fold” procedures certainly exists and can therefore be verified. But on the condition of being posited or understood through a synthetic operation of negation and overcoming, in Hegelian molds. Thus, the existing correlation between, on the one hand, the neoconcrete sculptures and others, made by Amilcar de Castro in the field of geometric abstraction, and, on the other hand, those of the epic-realist cycle, is of the same order as the unfolding in leap critical effect made by historical and dialectical materialism against the Hegelian idealist dialectic.

A (dialectic) turnaround and inversion of meaning in relation to the operations of “cutting and folding” set the conditions of possibility for Amilcar's work to carry out its dialectical leap forward. The objective reason for the synthetic and relative negation of the delicate and subtle abstract mental constructions – for the epic-realist form of the great iron and steel structures – resided, in short and to round off the topic, in the reemergence of the labor question in Brazil, after the cycle of brutal and predatory economic expansion, called by the supporters, in a way of fraud and farce, the “Brazilian miracle”.

A far-reaching critical operation, the denial operated by Amilcar took, with regard to the specific objective plane of the works, from the mental forum of geometry and artisanal manufacture to an industrial scale. There, he included decisive recourse to the hired workforce, that is, to manual labor intervention – without which such works would not be conceivable.

objective form

In summary, the mature work of Amilcar de Castro, from the 1980s and 1990s, corresponded to the objective form (in terms of literary criticism by Roberto Schwarz)[xxv] of the new and monumental workers' political project in Brazil: that of implanting itself in the public space, conquering collective acceptance and legitimacy in the sensibility of the immense majorities, which circulated through the great pipelines opened in Brazilian cities due to the expanded economy.

In this way, at each site where a large iron or corten steel structure, by Amilcar de Castro, would be, by hypothesis, sealed and marked the alliance (inherent contradictions included therein) of the intelligentsia Brazilian criticism – as conceived and forged in the years of democratic radicalization and pre-1964 social struggles – with the new seasoned working class in the political struggle against the civil-military dictatorship, especially from 1978 onwards. shows the essay “Culture and Politics, 1964 – 1969/ Some schemes”, by Roberto Schwarz, established its roots and flourished in the resistance to the civil-military coup of 1964, and that, even with its existence cut off in public spaces, by AI-5 , continued to bear fruit in the period that followed.[xxviii]

Today, when the oppression of the working class and, from the outset, of the vast majority of society once again takes on the appearance of a hard and impassable block, the tears in the iron proposed by Amilcar's sculptures shine with clarity and drama - which is why let it flow and allow foresight.

Fig 26 Sculptures and drawings by Amilcar de Castro in the basement of the MuBE, photo LRM, 2021

Fig 27 Sculpture by Amilcar de Castro under the MuBE marquee, photo LRM, 2021

Fig 28 MuBE theatre, marquee and esplanade, with sculptures by Amilcar de Castro, photo LRM, 2021

Incidentally, the lighting in the exhibition is excellent and gives the plays the historically theatrical and dramatic content (that is to say, the feature of a Benjaminian augury, of historical redemption, in short) that is, from birth, inherent to them – a content that, in the current moment of general danger and crushing of democratic life in Brazil, takes on full meaning again, for anyone who distinguishes the connections of such art with the historical process.

Thus, due to the singular power that modern art has fully developed – to symbolically objectify specific meanings inherent to the historical plot and the collective point of view –, Amilcar’s sculptures once again give aesthetic form – as in the 1980s and 1990s – to the struggle of workers and allied fractions (from other classes) for democratic freedoms and for the collective refoundation of the institutions of the republican system corroded by oligarchic practices, never eradicated from social and civil life in Brazil.

Such was the objective, as is well known, of the popular movement against the civil-military dictatorship, but it was never consummated, due to the negotiated model of transition – via agreements of all kinds, to preserve institutes and apparatuses of the regime – and the subsequent recourse to the Colégio Electoral. The collective historical demand remains open: it is what today flows through the cracks and bathes Amilcar de Castro's sculptures with a dramatic luminosity – typical of the clash of the collective struggle for life, and the unpredictable creativity of living work (printed in the drawings, as we will see forward), against the weight of resignation in the face of mass death and robotization.

In this sense, the intuited lesson of these sculptures is palpable as the emblematic materiality and the evident and incisive operations of day, of which they are made. Against those who did 1964, a real opening could be neither gradual nor slow nor even negotiated. But it required the very high heat of concerted collective actions in blast furnaces, with science, design and organizational engineering, to be able – as happened in Argentina – to investigate the crimes of the dictatorship, punish them and tear them apart, in courts invested with values ​​and civic significance. , the hardness of iron like paper. Finally, building collective strength and sharpening it for tough confrontations requires planning and organization. This is what each piece of corten steel, by Amilcar de Castro, nevertheless teaches and demonstrates, with the kind of strength and objectivity inherent in art.[xxviii]

One way or another, whether or not the expectations of the movement of workers and allies, whether of the sculptor, are fulfilled or not, what is really important to note, for the proper appreciation of his works, is that the method and parameters of work, structures conceived, as well as the key role attributed to the surroundings (synthesized to the internal logic of the works epic-realists) make up a whole. The latter is inseparable from the author's historical and political alignment – ​​without, therefore, being able to understand one without the other.

*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.

First 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, in preparation.

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.

References


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;

Videos


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:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ4ZN3kqOGQ>;

________________, 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH_EKe7_US0.

 

Notes


[1] Cf. Walter BENJAMIN, “Thesis II” and “Thesis VI”, 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. from theses Jeanne Marie Gagnebin and Marcos Lutz Müller, São Paulo, Boitempo, 2005, pp. 48 and 65.

[I] The MuBE project and tender, won by Mendes da Rocha, date back to 1986, the year also of the expropriation of the land on which it was installed; construction took place from 1987 to 1995. See the testimony and presentation of the project by the architect in the documentary by Luiz Bargmann Netto, 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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ4ZN3kqOGQ.

[ii] Cf. idem. See also the testimony of engineer Mário Franco, who calculated the work, in L. Bargmann Netto, The Building of the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture – Structural Conception (video, 24'44'', 1989-90, part of the project “Evaluation of the process…, op. cit). available in: http://iptv.usp.br/portal/transmisao/video.action;jsessionid=8F7FE51F62B8DF64A1077B9DB70E0FE2?idItem=9187

[iii] Both stages intended for “unpredictable shows” (the architect told me on the phone, on 22.03.2021, in our last conversation).

[iv] See LR MARTINS, “From Tarsila to Oiticica: Space Occupation Strategies in Brazil”, in Left Bank – Marxist essays, no. 2, São Paulo, Boitempo, November 2003, pp. 151-162. For a more recent version, see idem, “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, intr. by Alex Potts, Chicago, Haymarket/Historical Materialism Book Series, p. 15-26.

[v] Cf. L. Costa, “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), p. 265. For detailed comments and analyzes on the seven awarded projects in the Plano Piloto competition (1956/1957), see Milton BRAGA, The Brasilia Contest: Seven Projects for a Capital City, photo essay by Nelson Kon, editing and presentation by Guilherme Wisnik, São Paulo, Cosac Naify, Official Press of the State of São Paulo (IMESP), Museu da Casa Brasileira, 2010.

[vi] See LR MARTINS, “Forma-libre: brasileño mode of abstraction or the malaise in history”, in Verónica Hernández DÍAZ (org.), 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. For a more recent version, see LR MARTINS, “'Free Form': Brazilian Mode of Abstraction or a Malaise in History”, in idem, The Long Roots…, op. cit., pp. 27-43.

[vii] See Luiz RECAMÁN, 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. A summarized version of some of the main lines of the thesis can be found in the same, “Form without utopia”, in Elisabeta Andreoli and Adrian Forty ( orgs.), Brazilian Modern Architecture, London, Phaidon Press Limited, 2004, pp. 106-39. See also on the anti-urban content of Brasília's projects, LR MARTINS, “'free form...”, op. cit., pp. 27-43.

[viii] In the specific scope of professional opportunities, the extensive plan for the construction of public buildings, promoted by the action plan of the state government of S. Paulo (PAGE – 1959/1963), played an important role in the development of the aforementioned “school”. under the coordination of Plínio de Arruda Sampaio. See Daniele PISANI, “São Paulo architecture, family resemblances”, in Paulo Mendes da Rocha: Complete Work, photographs by Leonardo Finotti, São Paulo, Gustavo Gili, 2013, pp. 47-85; see also Miguel Antonio BUZZAR, Maria Tereza de Barros CORDIDO and Lucia Noemia SIMONI, “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.

[ix] In his words, and for parallel or contiguous reasons, the critic and curator Paulo Sérgio Duarte – who coordinated three of the main retrospectives of Amilcar de Castro (retrospective, Rio de Janeiro, Paço Imperial, 06.06-13.07.1989; Honored Artist, Porto Alegre, Mercosul Biennial, 30.09-04.12.2005; Amilcar de Castro, Rio de Janeiro, MAM-RJ, 26.11.2014-01.03.2015) – thus described the plot of the sensations of being in front of such works: “In their verticality, the sculptures do not rise before the eyes like walls, they do not bar my path nor do they obstruct my vision, they are like doors, many variations of the door, the one that allows me to walk through it (…)”. Cf. PS Duarte, “Amilcar de Castro or the adventure of coherence”, in New CEBRAP Studies, nº 28, São Paulo, Brazilian Center for Analysis and Planning, October 1990, p. 152.

[X] According to an outline of the notion of “participation”, inserted in Lygia Clark's notebook: “the work of art must demand immediate participation from the spectator and he, the spectator, must be thrown into it”. See Mário PEDROSA, “The work of Lygia Clark” [1963], in idem, Academics and Moderns: Selected Texts, vol III, org. and apres. Otília Arantes, São Paulo, Edusp, 1995, p. 350; and idem, “Significa- tion of Lygia Clark” [1960], in idem, From Portinari's Murals to Brasília's Spaces, org. Aracy Amaral, São Paulo, Perspectiva, 1981, p. 197. On the notion of “participation”, as an active relationship between the observer and the aesthetic object, see Hélio OITICICA, “Esquema geral da Nova Objetividade”, in Vv. Aa., New Brazilian Objectivity, catalogue, Mario Barata (pref.), Rio de Janeiro, A. Cruz printing house, 1967, pp. 4-18 – unnumbered; and in H. OITICICA, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. César Oiticica Filho, Rio de Janeiro, Beco do Azougue, 2011, pp. 87-101 (see mainly 'Item 3: Spectator Participation', pp. 96-97); see also LR MARTINS, “Strategies of Occupying Space…”, op. cit., p. 23; idem, “From Tarsila to Oiticica…”, op. cit., p. 159.

[xi] It would also apply to such a way of participation the saying “a camera in your hand and an idea in your head” – the motto of the agile and disruptive narrative of Glauber Rocha (1939 – 1981), especially in earth in trance (1967). However, in the case of the sculptures in question, Glauber's “a camera in the hand” would have to be replaced by something linking the gaze to walking.

[xii] See Walter Benjamin, 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. By the way, note that, in general terms, the steps The aforementioned criticisms of overcoming the auratic and singular form of the work of art, in favor of the democratization of art, were embodied, in terms of the Brazilian aesthetic and artistic debate, in the proposition of “anti art”, discussed later.

[xiii] Cf. Antonio DIAS, “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. 54-55.

[xiv] Oiticica distinguished, in the proposition launched in this exhibition by the pictorial object Note on unforeseen death (1965), by Antonio Dias, “the decisive 'turning point' (…) in the pictorial-structural field”. Thus, much more than a finding, restricted to an individual work, Oiticica distinguished in the work of the young Dias the emblematic index of a broad process, of reconstruction of the realism in Brazilian visual arts, constituted from various roots (including Cinema Novo and other painters participating in the same exhibition: Gerchman [1942 – 2008], Escosteguy [1916 – 1989] etc.), Cf. H. OITICICA, “General scheme…”, op. cit., p. 90 (“Item 2: Tendency for the object when being denied and overcome the easel frame”). On the construction movement in the Brazilian visual arts of a new realism, in response to the 1964 coup, see also LR Martins, “Trees of Brazil”, in The Long Roots…, op. cit., pp. 73-113.

[xv] There are signs that at least since 1965 Amilcar had his sights set on making large-scale sculptures. In fact, that year, his works at the São Paulo Art Biennial included 5 sculptures with an average height of 1,80 m (I did not have access to photos of these pieces). However, for one reason or another, the experiment was not followed up in the following years. In 1977, the large-scale hypothesis was resumed through two works, with structures still derived from works from the 1960s, as detailed ahead. Thus, it was only from 1978 onwards that the large format imposed itself as a constant, bringing with it related structural changes, as I will discuss below.

[xvi] On the initial readings and the first visit by Amilcar de Castro to an exhibition of Bill's works, in 1950 in Rio de Janeiro, see Márcio Sampaio, “Vida e Arte: uma poetica em construção”, in Ronaldo Brito (ed.), Amilcar de Castro, São Paulo, Takano, 2001, p. 208.

[xvii] In conjunction with the inauguration of the Sé subway station, in February 1978, the Empresa Municipal de Urbanização-EMURB planned the unification of Praça Clóvis with Praça da Sé and the reurbanization of the complex, to be inaugurated on the 425th anniversary of the city (25.01.1979. 1978). The related installation of sculptures in the square, in 79-1975, derived from a 1923 program, with several proposals, soon suspended. Launched by engineer João Evangelista Leão, president of the city's zoning commission, with the aid of historian and artist Flavio Motta (2016 – 1942) and artist Marcello Nitsche (2017 – 25), the program invited several artists residing in S Paulo for the revitalization of degraded areas (Minhocão, Rua 1911 de Março, Av. Santos Dumont etc.), but only a few proposals were actually implemented. Artists who did not live in the city were also invited to Praça da Sé (in the following administration), with more resources (Amilcar de Castro, Franz Weissmann [2005 – 1930], Sérgio Camargo [1990 – XNUMX], among others others).

[xviii] For a photo of the piece (350 x 400 x 350 x 5 cm), at Caixa Econômica de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, see R. Brito, on. cit., P. 102.

[xx] The first two acts of the resumption of explicit and mass protests against the dictatorship took place in the Sé cathedral, since the repressive wave that followed the enactment of the AI-5, on 13.12.1968: the mass-demonstration on 17.03.1973, against the murder of USP student Alexandre Vanucchi Leme, with an estimated 5 gifts; the ecumenical cult on 31.10.1975, against the torture and murder of TV Cultura journalist Vladimir Herzog, with an estimated 8 gifts.

[xx] For the confrontation in the aesthetic discussion, in Brazil, between the notions of “pure form” and “objective form”, see LR MARTINS, “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. 321-46. See also note 28, below.

[xxx] See M. Pedrosa, “Environmental Art, Post-Modern Art, Hélio Oiticica” [1966], in idem, From the Murals…, op. cit., pp. 205-209; see also H. OITICICA, “July 1966 / Position and Program / Environmental Program” [1966], in idem, Hélio Oiticica – Museum is the World, org. C. Oiticica Filho, op. cit., pp. 79-85.

[xxiii] See the related notion proposed by Ferreira GULLAR, “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. For a discussion of the notion, see Sérgio Bruno MARTINS, “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.

[xxiii] I once told Amilcar, months after the show at the Hélio Oiticica Art Center (11.12.1999 – 26.03.2000), that I had seen, in a side street close to the Center, a large-format piece occupied by a homeless person. The top of the sculpture simultaneously functioned as a hanger and clothesline for drying clothes. A large fold in the sheet, forming a plane close to the floor, served as a night shelter, under which the floor was lined with cardboard. Amilcar vibrated of contentment with your parangolé, converted into a functional object by the operation (from participation) anonymous.

[xxv] Cf. H. Oiticica, “Appearance of the Suprasensorial”, in idem, Hélio Oiticica – Museum…, org. C. Oiticica Filho, op. cit., p. 106.

[xxiv] To see .

[xxv] For the history of the aesthetic debate in Brazil about the materialist notion of “objective form” forged in Brazilian literary criticism, but also involving the related notions of “negative art”, of “open-project (open-project)” and “environmental art”, elaborated in the course of the dialogue between Dias and Oiticica, see LR Martins, “Far beyond form (…)”, op. cit., pp. 327-45. For details on the notion of “open-project”, see Hélio Oiticica, “Special for Antonio Dias' Project-Book” (6-12/aug./1969 – London) and A. Dias, “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. On details of the long-term open-ended four-handed “environmental art” project between Dias and Oiticica, see Gustavo Motta, 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: .

[xxviii] See Roberto SCHWARZ, “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. The text was originally published under the title “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.

[xxviii] Like the clarity of the method of tearing and bending the iron, the author's political alignment was unmistakable. On 09.05.1998/2/4 (election year), on the eve of a new exhibition in S. Paulo, at the Raquel Arnaud gallery, Amilcar de Castro was questioned by journalist José Carlos SANTANA (“Amilcar de Castro plays with the material in a new exhibition”, in “Remarkable Meetings/ Culture/ Notebook107” [Year IX Number 09.05.1998, XNUMX, Saturday, XNUMX], The State of S. Paul, pp. D1 and D11, in the following terms: "State – Mr. Did you vote for Fernando Henrique Cardoso and are you going to vote for him for another term?/ Amilcar – I didn't vote and never would. He's a sociologist with a lot of fat, too vain, I don't vote for him, no. I always voted for Lula and I think it's a shame that Brazil doesn't give him the opportunity to do something for this country. He knows what the people need and he has very good people with him, serious and wise people”. Once Amilcar's position has been highlighted (without the need to discuss here the Lula or PT position – which I do not subscribe to, which is also beside the point –), it is necessary to take as a decisive sign, for the interpretation and history of the work of the sculptor, the blunt way in which the author presented his political alignment. Such a mode is parallel and consistent with the evidence present in the spatial turn of his sculptures and, under the circumstances, in the political lesson of his pieces – despite the fact that such elements are systematically disregarded in the “critical fortune” of Amilcar de Castro's work. Nor is it appropriate to enter into the merits of the later achievement, or not, by PT federal governments from 2003 onwards, of the author's political expectations. Amilcar, unfortunately, passed away (in full productive vigor) on 21.11.2002, before the inauguration of the first Lula government (01.01.2003)].

 

 

See this link for all articles

10 MOST READ IN THE LAST 7 DAYS

______________
  • 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
  • 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'”
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones
  • 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
  • The melancholic end of Estadãoabandoned cars 17/06/2024 By JULIAN RODRIGUES: Bad news: the almost sesquicentennial daily newspaper in São Paulo (and the best Brazilian newspaper) is rapidly declining

AUTHORS

TOPICS

NEW PUBLICATIONS