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Art in Brazil:

José & Paulina Nemirovsky Gallery – Modern Art

22 Oct 2016
26 Aug 2020

Starting October 22, Pinacoteca de São Paulo, the art museum of the São Paulo State Secretariat of Culture, with the sponsorship of Banco Safra and Dafiti, presents the exhibit titled “Galeria José e Paulina Nemirovsky – Arte moderna” [“Jose & Paulina Nemirovsky Gallery – Modern Art”]. The show is a reorganization and expansion of the exhibit on Modernism, which ran for four years at Estação Pinacoteca and now occupies five rooms on the first floor of the Pinacoteca Luz building.

Bringing together a selection of more than 100 pieces from the collections of the São Paulo Pinacoteca, the José and Paulina Nemirovsky Foundation, and the Roger Wright Collection, the show makes the connection between the second-floor exhibit “Art in Brazil: A history at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo” and the exhibit “Brazilian Avant-Garde of the 1960s – Roger Wright Collection,” which opened recently. Thus, Pina becomes the only São Paulo museum that recounts the History of Art in Brazil from the colonial period until the 1970s, with more than 700 works distributed across an area of 2,000 square meters.
The exhibit that will be opened on the first floor focuses on key moments in the modern period in Brazil: the formal innovations of the first Modernism (Tarsila and Lasar Segall), concern for social issues that mark the work of Portinari and Di Cavalcanti, the interest in self-taught artists or those trained outside the art academies (such as Volpi, Pancetti and Jose Antonio da Silva), and the emergence of lyrical and geometric abstraction. In this reorganization, the show also includes works from the Concrete and Neoconcrete periods, ending with a selection of pieces connected to the most lyrical currents of abstractionism.
“This is a unique and special exhibition, which traverses much of Brazil’s historical-cultural scenario of the twentieth century. Not to mention that we expanded this show from 49 to 110 works, all emblematic and internationally recognized. We are pleased to offer this panorama of Brazilian art to museum visitors,” said curator Valéria Piccoli.
José and Paulina Nemirovsky, over the years, garnered one of the most important collections of Brazilian modern art, which includes iconic works of the twentieth century, such as the famous “Antropofagia” by Tarsila do Amaral. The loan-for-use agreement with Pinacoteca was signed in 2004 by the collectors, who sought to become associated with a public institution in order to give greater visibility to this important artistic heritage. In honor of the couple, the set of rooms where the show will be on display has been renamed the “José and Paulina Nemirovsky Gallery” and will be used for this long-term exhibit.
“Starting on the 22nd, Pina will offer the public the possibility to find – in one place – the broadest and most complete panorama of Brazilian art, a valuable opportunity for visitors,” said Tadeu Chiarelli, general director of the Pinacoteca.
“Art in Brazil: A history at Pinacoteca de São Paulo. José and Paulina Nemirovsky Gallery – Modern Art” remains on view through August 26, 2019 on the 1st floor of the Pinacoteca – Praça da Luz, 2. Admission is open on Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 am to 6 pm. Tickets cost R$ 15,00 (full price) and R$ 7,00 (half-price for students, seniors, etc.). Admission is free-of-charge for children under 10 and adults over 60. On Saturdays, admission is free for all visitors.
When visiting the museum, be sure to check out the works of:
Tarsila do Amaral
Antropofagia, 1929
In January 1928, Tarsila presented her husband Oswald de Andrade with painting titled “Abaporu,” which would inspire him to draft the “Manifesto Antropófago,” the seminal document of Brazilian modernism, in which the author proposes a critical assimilation of the European cultural heritage and reutilizing it to create a genuinely Brazilian art.
Although “Abaporu” is considered the work that ushered in Brazilian Modernism, “A Negra,” 1923 – an allegory of the figure of the “Grande Mãe,” with a single, gigantic breast, sitting heavily on the ground, like a mythical goddess of fertility – foreshadows what would come to be Tarsila’s anthropophagic poetry: paintings characterized by a reduced number of elements, sparse colors, and the presence of Brazilian and primitive themes, figured into an intense dream-like atmosphere. The painting “Antropofagia,” 1929, as the title suggests, is an assimilation of the two earlier works: the figure and background of “Abaporu” and “A Negra” merge, forming a primeval couple in a dense and silent landscape. Images inspired by an archaic, pre-Cabral Brazil, together with the use of modern language, created a possible solution to a paradox in this anthropophagic prescription: the need to reconcile primitive and modern aspects all at once.
Ernesto de Fiori
“Homem andando,” between 1936 and 1937
There is little accurate information on the art training of Ernesto de Fiori. It is known that in 1904 he joined Akademie der Bieldenden Künste in Munich, Germany, where he attended drawing classes. Interested in painting since an early age, but devoted mainly to sculpture, he arrived in Brazil in 1936, coming from Berlin, and began to take hold in the artistic environment by participating in local shows. The figure of the “walking man” or “marching man” is present in his work from 1920 to around 1938. But the peculiarity of this piece is in the way the man projects his body forward, with head and torso cast to the left, in a long stride, suggesting speed and obstinacy. The rough and uneven surface, with an unfinished look, and the simplification of forms, without the division of the fingers or toes, enhance the speed and dynamism of sculpture, ranging from the ideation to the shaping of the material. The result is an urgent image, which insinuates a process in progress, or at least a situation that points to transformations.
Fachada, c. 1955
It was after a trip to Minas Gerais, in 1944, that Volpi began painting with tempera. With the change in technique, one can see – little by little, throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s – his painting style become more closed, by selecting certain formal elements such as the façades of houses, which were previously represented in their entirety. The famous flags began to be represented in the early 1950s, and will reappear countless times in his work, whether as flags, or as pure geometric forms, undergoing all kinds of constructive manipulation at the hands of the artist. But formal rigidity does not always prevail: in “Fachada,” for example, we see a very lively composition, with a more popular character.