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Engraving and social criticism: 1925-1956

26 Oct 2019
24 Feb 2020

The Pinacoteca de São Paulo, museum of the Secretaria de Cultura e Economia Criativa (Secretary of Culture and Creative Economy) of the state of São Paulo presents, from 26th October, 2019 until 16th February, 2020, the exhibition Gravura e crítica social: 1925-1956, that brings together engravings from the Pinacoteca’s collection, on the theme of social engagement. Curated by Valéria Piccoli, Chief-Curator at the museum, the set of works is composed of 67 woodcuts and linocuts by 18 Brazilian artists including Lívio Abramo, Lasar Segall, Oswaldo Goeldi and Renina Katz.

The 1930’s and 1940’s were marked, in the context of Brazilian art, by the emergence of themes of a social nature. This is particularly evidenced in the work of printmakers – especially in the woodcutting technique -, who came together in “clubs”, acting to represent workers in their most varied roles. The Pinacoteca has a significant collection of prints from this period, a selection of which it now presents, in relation to that theme.

The show begins with Lasar Segall and Oswaldo Goeldi, and their depictions of prostitutes and brothels, continuing into representations of wider issues and subjects such as labourers, civil construction workers, farmers, the arrival into cities of migrants from the Northeast of Brazil, and the formation of favelas (slums). The collection of works also includes a large number of works – eighteen in total – by Renina Katz.

Influenced by the printmaker Axl Leskoschek, the artist from São Paulo became known for a production rooted in the denunciation of the precarious condition of the poorest sectors of Brazilian society, evident in works like Retirantes (1948-1956), which is a record of the impact of the Northeastern exodus towards the South of the country, and Favela (1948-1956), which represents, in a melancholy tone, the simplicity and difficulty of daily life in these communities in Rio de Janeiro.

“The Pinacoteca is privileged in the sense that it has a very complete collection, which enables a retracing of almost the whole of Renina Katz’s production. The period in which she returned her attention to societal themes is very interesting when considered as a counterpoint to the abstract productions for which she is more well-known”, according to Valéria Piccoli.

Further stand-out works here are those produced by members of the Clube de Gravura de Porto Alegre, which originated from an art revival movement in Rio Grande do Sul, in the 1930’s. One of its leading members was the artist Carlo Scliar, who acted as an important intermediary between the artists from São Paulo and those from the south of the country, as well as the multi-disciplinary artist and professor Glênio Bianchetti, the printmaker Danúbio Gonçalvez – who frequented the studios of Candido Portinari and Iberê Camargo – and Vasco Prado, who played an important role in the formation of the group, in 1950, after a period of two years in Paris, during which he studied alongside Fernand Léger, at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

The group was driven by a craving for technical and formal advancements, combined with an enthusiasm for social realism. They also defended figurative art themed on the “Gauchesco” (deep-south of Brazil) region, on folklore, on the representation of the life of the rural urban worker, as well as the struggles of the working class, attempting to bring art to the people, in contrast to, in the words of Vasco Prado, the “cosmopolitan and antinational manifestations of abstractionism”. The club members even published the magazine Horizonte, the proofs of which have been preserved by the Pinacoteca, and can now be seen by the public for the first time.

The exhibition is part of the Pinacoteca’s 2019 program, dedicated to the relationship between art and society, through which the institution aims to examine social dimensions in artistic practice, presented in exhibitions that give a new dimension the idea of social sculpture, a term coined by the German artist and activist Joseph Beuys.


 Abelardo da Hora (São Lourenço da Mata, PE, 1924 – Recife, PE, 2014)

Ailema Bianchetti (Lavras do Sul, RS, 1926)

Carlos Scliar (Santa Maria, RS, 1920 – Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 2001)

Danúbio Gonçalves (Bagé, RS, 1925)

Edgar Koetz (Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil, 1914-1965)

Gastão Hofstetter (Porto Alegre, RS 1917-1986)

Gilvan Samico (Recife, PE, 1928-2013)

Glauco Rodrigues (Bagé, RS, 1929 – Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 2004)

Glênio Bianchetti (Bagé, RS, 1928 – Brasília, DF, 2014)

Ionaldo Cavalcanti (Recife, PE, 1933 – São Paulo, SP, 2002)

Lasar Segall (Vilnius, Lithuania, 1889 – São Paulo, SP, 1957)

Lívio Abramov (Araraquara, SP, 1903 – Assunção, Paraguay, 1992)

Manoel Martins (São Paulo, SP, 1911-1979)

Maria Laura Radspiller (Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1925)

Nilo Previdi (Curitiba, PR, 1913-1982)

Oswaldo Goeldi (Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1895-1961)

Renina Katz (São Paulo, SP, 1925)

Vasco Prado (Uruguaiana, RS, 1914 – Porto Alegre, RS, 1998)



 Gravura e crítica social: 1925-1956

Curated by Valéria Piccoli

Opening: 26th October, 2019, Saturday, 11am

Open for Visitation: 26th October, 2019 until 24th February, 2020

Wednesdays to Mondays, from 10am until 6pm – visitors may stay inside until 6pm.

Pinacoteca de São Paulo:

Pina Luz Building

Praça da Luz 2, São Paulo, SP – Room D, 2nd floor

Tickets: R$ 15,00 (entrance); R$ 7,00 (concessions for student card holders)

Children under 10 years of age and persons aged 60+ enter free of charge.

On Saturdays, entrance to Pina is free for all.