MAC - Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. MAC USP was created in 1963, based on the collection of the former Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, which was comprised of the collections of the art patrons Yolanda Penteado and Ciccillo Matarazzo; these works had been purchased or donated to the Museum, or purchased through the prizes given by the São Paulo Biennials, until 1961.
It was dedicated to preserving, studying and displays the collection it received,
while becoming one of the most significant art centers of the Southern
Hemisphere. Besides, it collects studies and displays works that represent
various movements of conceptual art, new technologies, as well as other types of works that questioned modern tradition.
Research in a contemporary art museum must be dedicated not only to the work of art, as an autonomous object, but also to the system within which it was created, as well as its forms of articulation and legitimization. In this sense, one of the aims of the research developed at the MAC USP is to contribute to the review of Art History and Culture History writings.
Emiliano Di Cavalcanti:top:
Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil, 1897- Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil,1976
Simultaneously to entering in Law school, he began to make drawings, caricatures and illustrations. Shortly after, he moved to São Paulo, where he met Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Paulo Prado, Tarsila, Anita Malfatti, Brecheret, and other artists, writers and intellectuals of the time. He conceived the Semana de Arte Moderna de 1922 [Modern Art Week of 1922], was the author of the graphic project of the Week’s catalogue and program. In 1923, he went to Paris for a few years, which he spent writing and painting. In the 1930s, he is one of the first artists to express social concern in his work. He lived in Paris shortly before World War II. In 1953, he won the prize for Best National Painter (ex-aequo with Volpi) at the 2nd São Paulo Biennial.
He is the artist most represented in the MAC collections; over 500 Di Cavalcanti drawings were donated to the former MAM-São Paulo, which preceded MAC, from the 1920s to 1952. The publication Desenhos de Di Cavalcanti na Coleção do MAC, CNEC-MAC-USP, 1985, addresses this set and contains its cataloguing. Di Cavalcanti is present in the collection also with paintings from different phases of his production. From O Beijo, which represents a modern phase and whose date is imprecise (1922 or 1923), to typical works from the 1940s, such as Vaso de Flores, Menino e Natureza Morta, Barcos de Pesca, and Pescadores that show the characteristics of his early 1950s productions, as well as his last phase, such as Retrato de Yolanda Penteado. In this painting, the modernity seen from the self-taught view of Di Cavalcanti is clearly evident: in the stylization of shapes, verticalization in terms of figures, same treatment given to the foreground and background, and removal of Renaissance perspective. On the other hand, the entire work evokes a romantic aura that was peculiar for the time – and considering how young the author was – and it is soon noticeable features of an oeuvre that became known for addressing themes related to the warm sensuality of the Brazilian woman, the predominance of curves in the composition whose center is the couple in love.
The name of Emiliano Di Cavalcanti is strictly related to the first events of Brazilian modernism. The young and restless artist conceived the Semana de Arte Moderna de 22, in which he was actively involved, creating various works presented in the visual arts show held at the Teatro Municipal de São Paulo. These works denoted first and foremost his stand against academicism, but were still far from indicating a closer approximation to the issues raised by modern art. In the year that followed the Semana de 22, Di Cavalcanti went to Paris, where he lived for two years. When he returned to Brazil, he sought to bring together the avant-garde repertoire and the characteristics of his own work. A second stay in Paris, between 1937 and 1940, brought him more up-to-date regarding the international art scenario. After that, he established his name in the Brazilian art scene, developing a production that aimed at depicting Brazil and its multiple features and, mainly, at affirming a national identity.
The set of 564 drawings by Di Cavalcanti that are part of the MAC collection reveal aspects of his career that remain little known to most people. Actually, Di Cavalcanti began his artistic career as a draftsman, creating illustrations, political caricature, as well as other types of caricatures. In addition to working in the press, various newspapers and magazines, he illustrated many books. Di Cavalcanti’s drawings show to us an extremely versatile artist who was guided by experimentation and the ability to respond to the widest variety of demands.
He was a self-taught artist and a pioneer of modern art in Brazil; he is a central personality in Brazilian painting. His first works are influenced by Aubrey Beardsley and by Art Noveau. He published is first caricature in 1914, in Rio de Janeiro, and moved to São Paulo to pursue a Law degree. In 1918, he began to go to the studio of the impressionist painter Georges Elpons and continues to create caricatures for various magazines, under the pseudonym "Urbano". He became friends with a group of young intellectuals and artists of which Oswald de Andrade, Paulo Prado, Guilherme de Almeida, Anita Malfatti, among others, were part. He began to paint in 1920 and, as early as 1921, he conceived the exhibition that resulted in the Semana de Arte Moderna [Modern Art Week] – following the model of the Festival of Deauville, in France–, and was the author of the graphic project for its catalog and program. In 1923, he traveled to Paris, where he lived until shortly before the 2nd World War.
His life and work is a sort of anthology of the art life of Rio de Janeiro; the best phases of his production are located between the 1920s and 1940s. Both Cubism and Mexican Muralism, as well as a painting with a certain oneiric and sensual mood, mark his work: he applies his stroke as if he is dreaming, he psychographs his erotic fantasies, always remaining faithful to the unexpected, instant and pure gesture.
A chronicler of Rio de Janeiro nightlife, an odious lampoonist, a pragmatist of the social flaws of his time, party singer, as a social painter, he works with what’s popular and has a pre-contemporary innocence. He stated: "my modernism was painted with the colors of Brazilian cultural anarchism." In his work, drawing precedes painting, and the stroke precedes color as means of expression; his search for light and color brings his painting closer to Baroque style as it shows the effort to place man and life in Dionysian circles. He uses warm tones, synthetic lines and free shapes; he mostly portrayed the Brazilian woman, specially the mulata, conferring them the dignity of Renaissance Madonnas.
Transylvânia, Hungary, 1909 - São Paulo, SP, Brazil, 1978
She studied at the Royal Academy of Budapest, from 1927 to 1929. Painter and watercolorist, Mohalyi moved to Brazil in 1931 and became part of the art scene. She became close to Segall, of whom she was a student, friend and admirer. In the 1940s, she was part of the Grupo dos Sete [Group of Seven] with Rino Levi, Antonio Gomide, Elizabeth Nobiling, Brecheret, John and Regina Graz.
Despite the strong influence of Lasar Segall in the early years of her career, Mohalyi developed her own poetic. These two artists have common aspects, such as: their European education; their relationship with the modernist movement; their students (it is important to note that Yolanda became a teacher since she arrived in Brazil, in 1931, and event taught at FAAP – Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado, in 1961/62); they shared the idea that art is not something regional, as well as their strong religiosity. After the 1950s, and after gaining experience due to participations in various national and international exhibitions, her work entered an “Abstraction” phase. In this phase, Yolanda continues to use strong colors, but added more luminosity. Another feature: the predominance of larger sizes.
She studied in the Royal Academy of Budapest, from 1927 to 1929. Painter and watercolorist, Mohalyi moved to Brazil in 1931 and became part of the art scene. She became close to Segall, of whom she was a student, friend and admirer. In the 1940s, she was part of the Grupo dos Sete [Group of Seven] with Rino Levi, Antonio Gomide, Elizabeth Nobiling, Brecheret, John and Regina Graz.
Her early painting presents post-impressionist trends, followed by an expressionist figuration depicting landscapes, children, the elderly and workers. She mainly explored watercolor technique in view of the new tropical light and Brazilian themes.
In the 1950s, the artist began to shift her work toward abstraction, which later settled as lyrical abstraction. When she saw Piero de La Francesca’s fresco paintings, in Arezzo, Italy, she came to the conclusion that she could no longer paint the human figure, because she was before the “(...) perfect coherence and unity of serene human dignity expressed in plastic language (...)” Her knowledge one the new international art proposals made her restructure her poetic, making her figures progressively geometric and simple until reaching full abstraction. Her works from this phase contain the same combination of colors and subtle transparencies found in her previous productions, but gained luminosity in various and loose textures, in free shapes and stains, in large compositions. They verify the high level of mastery the artist obtained from a long and deep experience with painting, which she understood as a religious and mystical rite. One may say that the artist reached perfect coherence and unity of serene human dignity in her abstractions. The collection contains 29 paintings from different phases of the artist’s productions. One of the highlights of this collection is the informal abstractions she created as of the 1950s, which characterize Mohalyi as one of the major representatives of this abstract expressionist trend in Brazil. Among the many exhibitions she held in Brazil and abroad, there are the artist’s participation and awards granted in the 5th and 6th São Paulo Biennial (1959 and 1963) for Best National Painter and a special room at the 8th São Paulo Biennial (1984).
Maria Angela Serri Francoio
Mohalyi was a painter and watercolorist who studied at the Royal Academy of Budapest. In 1931, she moved to São Paulo, became part of the art scene and established a close relationship with Lasar Segall, whose influence marked her early works, which were figurative. In the 1940s, she was part of the Grupo dos Sete [Group of Seven] with Rino Levi, Antonio Gomide, Elizabeth Nobiling, Brecheret, John and Regina Graz. She did individual shows in Brazil and abroad. She received various prizes, such as the Governo Federal prize and the Best National Painter prize at the 5th and 6th São Paulo Biennials (1959 and 1963); the 8th São Paulo Biennial, in 1965, dedicated a special room to her. In Dan Galeria de Arte, in São Paulo, a retrospective of her work was organized in 1984.
Karl Schimidt - Rottluff :top:
Rottluff, Germany, 1884 – Berlin, Germany, 1976
He was a self-taught painter and printmaker; he added the name of his home city to his own name because he considered it was too ordinary. In 1905, he began to study architecture in Dresden. That same year, together with Heckel (1883-1970), Kirchner (1880-1938), Nolde (1867-1956), Müller (1874 -1930) and Barlach (1879-1938), he founded the group Die Brücke (The Bridge), the first expressionist hub of the German artistic avant-garde. The group proposed to unite “the effervescent revolutionary elements to construct a common front” against, among other things, the echoes of French impressionism in the confused Germany of that period.
Die Brücke resumed woodcut as an artistic language, because this traditional German illustration technique establishes a strong link between art and communication, which is an important aspect of the expressionist program of this artists’ community. In addition, the graphic work supported the populist attitude of the movement, which remained strong until 1913.
To Schimidt-Rottluff, the resistance of wood as a feature of this language intensified the increasing radicalization of his poetic in angulosities, deformations and simplifications. The artist’s contact with Cubism and with African Art strengthened this clearly expressionist treatment of his productions.
During his participation in World War I, he made sculptures in wood. His paintings, created before that period, followed the simple formal features of prints and presented pure colors. After the war, colors are shaded and a religious theme appears. In the late 1920s, he traveled to several European countries. In Rome, he attended the German Academy, in Villa Maximo. After 1922, he dedicated himself to printmaking, which is a privileged portion of his oeuvre. He was persecuted during World War II. His studio was destroyed in a bombing and several of his works were seized from German museums. In 1947, he began teaching in the Academy of Fine Arts of Berlin. He dedicated himself to create the The Bridge Museum, which opened in 1967, in Berlin and gathers the production of the Group. Among various exhibits, he participated in the 5th São Paulo Biennial (1959) and in the 30th Venice Biennale (1960).
No other theme was as vigorously and austerely addressed by the artist as the portrait. In this expressionist Auto-retrato, sd. [Self-portrait, n.d], the artist reduces the treatment of the composition to the essential formal elements, which was a characteristics of his production. He constructs planes by means of black and white surfaces opposed to hachured areas, which result from the removal of chips of wood from the matrix and create comb-shaped structures. Black lines surround the composition, which includes different types of lines obtained from other procedures applied to the wood block. The elongated deformation of the head, the geometrization and simplification of forms refer to primitive African art.
Maria Angela Serri Francoio
Painter and printmaker. He studied architecture in Dresden. He adopts the name of his home city as his second surname. In Dresden, meets Kirchner and becomes one of the leaders of German Expressionism. In 1905, founds Die Brücke (The Bridge). In 1906, meets Emil Nolde. In 1911, goes to Norway and establishes himself in Berlin, where he meets Feininger. In the 1920s he dedicates himself to graphic arts. He is persecuted by the Nazi regime and is expelled from the Prussian Academy of Arts, in 1933. In 1941, he is forbidden to paint and supervised by the Nazi police. Between 1943 and 1947 he goes to Chernnitz. In 1947 he goes to Berlin. In 1967, he founds The Bridge Museum, in Berlin-Dahlem. His works are part of collections of the world’s most prominent museums, such as Tate Gallery, of London and the MoMA, of New York.
Lasar Segall :topo:
Vilna, Lithuânia, 1891- São Paulo, SP, Brazil, 1957
At the age of 15, he traveled to Germany, where he attended the Academy of Fine Arts of Berlin. In 1910, he moved to Dresden, where he attended the local Academy of Fine Arts. His first prints are from that time. He visited Brazil for the first time in 1912. In 1913, he exhibited works in São Paulo and Campinas. One year later, he returned to Dresden. In 1914, he became an active participant in the expressionist movement. He traveled to Brazil for the second time in 1923, establishing himself in São Paulo. His works from that time portray the Brazilian people and land. Segall adapted his culture to his new land and adjusted his color scheme to tropical colors. Perfil de Zulmira may be seen as an attempt to define a local theme by means of portraiture. His first sculptures date from 1930. In 1932, he made the set and decoration for the opening of the Sociedade Pró Arte Moderna (SPAM), in addition to participating in its foundation. In 1935, he painted a series of portraits of the painter Lucy Ferreira and, later, resumed expressionist themes. He participated in the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th São Paulo Biennials and in the 29th Venice Biennale. In 1970, the Lasar Segall Museum was founded in his former residence, in Vila Mariana district.
In Perfil de Zulmira, 1928, the feminine figure is in the foreground, with her back to the viewer. The background is abstract, in a geometrized construction. Between the background and the figure, a light shape is drawn around the theme. Brown, earth colors, and ochre are invaded by the dark lilac, which is the color of the woman’s clothes. These are the new lights used by the artist.
The simplified shapes, the influence of cubism, expressionism and abstractionism, the development of planes and the visual emphasis on the themes are part of the language of this modernist.
Carmen S.G. Aranha
He attended the Academy of Fine Arts of Berlin, in 1906, and later the Academy of Fine Arts of Dresden. In 1912, he comes to Brazil, but moved to the country only in 1923. His oeuvre is comprised of portraits, landscapes, Brazilian themes related to social reality, memories from his past, and scenes that refer to Judaism. Segall was a versatile artist and mastered expressive techniques, such as painting, drawing, printmaking and sculpture. In 1930, he participated in the foundations of the Sociedade Pró-Arte Moderna (SPAM). He participated in several major exhibits in Brazil, such as the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th São Paulo Biennials, and abroad, such as the 29th Venice Biennale.
Málaga, Span, 1881 - Mougins, Maritime Alps, France, 1973
He is one of the major artists of our century, a unique phenomenon of creativity in different fields of art - painting, ceramics, sculpture, drawing, printmaking and scenography. The son of a painter and a teacher, he began his studies in the School of Fine Arts of Barcelona, where his father taught drawing. He attended the San Fernando de Madrid Academy. In 1900, he travels to Paris, where his first phase emerges, named Blue phase (1901-1904). In 1904, he lives in Montmartre in the futurely famous Bateau Lavoir, where he develops the Cubist aesthetics and begins his Pink phase (1905-1906). The abstract and loose primitive arts and the African arts influence him to paint, in 1907, the Demoiselles d'Avignon, a composition with no unit, characters with no relief formed by imbricate lines, angles and planes, which anticipate Cubism. At that point, his art deals with objects. He is interested in their form, structure and planes seen from different angles. Reality is volume and space. In 1908, with the painter Braque, he becomes a Cubism Pioneer, looking at nature from a geometrical-analytical view. From 1908 to 1911, Analytic Cubism undergoes modifications, in the sense of synthesizing the composition by means of the overlay of planes, established by dense colors; this was followed by Synthetic Cubism. In 1912, he begins to make collage superimposed on paintings, fragments of newspapers and others. The most common themes are still-lifes and musical instruments. When Cubism becomes widespread, Picasso, as a good dissident, abandoned it and resumed figuration in 1914. In 1925, he participates in the first surrealist exhibition and remains connected with the movement until 1937, when he made his masterpiece Guernica. In 1939, during a retrospective in New York, his geniality was recognized.
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