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Synopsis

The critic and visual artist Waldemar Cordeiro defends the true language of the arts—the one that, in his opinion, is “real”—in which the visual elements present themselves (to themselves) as lines and colors, making not the slightest reference to any reality other than their own. The canvas (in the case of a painter) must explicitly evoke its status as a “plane,” since the composition depends on the connections between the visual elements, but must not overshadow them. Given that it is impossible to express every facet of a three-dimensional object on the surface of a canvas, Cordeiro suggests that figurative painting is imbued with a hidden dimension that renders it imprecise and inaccessible to critical reflection. He refers to the critics and members of the public who—still accustomed to figurative forms—accuse abstract art of being “unintelligible.” According to Cordeiro—as was argued in the “Manifesto ruptura,” published in 1952 by the ruptura group he headed—an understanding of abstract art requires prior knowledge on the part of the beholder.   

Leia esta sinopse em português
Synopsis

Cordeiro defende a linguagem real das artes, na qual os elementos visuais se apresentam diretamente como linhas e cores, sem fazer referência a nenhuma realidade exterior à sua própria. A tela deve explicitar seu caráter planar, pois o resultado da composição depende das relações entre elementos visuais, sem que haja hierarquia entre eles. Segundo o autor, como não se pode representar todas as faces de um sólido tridimensional no plano da tela, a pintura figurativa possui uma dimensão oculta, que a torna imprecisa e inacessível à reflexão crítica. Faz ainda referência aos setores da crítica e do público que, acostumados com as formas representativas, acusam o abstracionismo de ser "ininteligível". Para ele, a compreensão da arte abstrata exige conhecimento prévio.

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Annotations

The Italian-Brazilian artist Waldemar Cordeiro (1925–73), who was born in Rome and settled in Brazil when he was twenty years old, was a pioneer of Brazilian concrete art. He was an incisive art critic and one of the major local promoters of abstract art as far back as the late 1940s. Written shortly after his arrival in the country and published in Revista de Novíssimos no. 2, São Paulo, January-February 1949—see document 6 on CD-ROM WC—, this essay sheds light on his early ideas concerning the definition of “concrete,” which led to violent disagreements among artists and critics on the subject of figuration and abstract art. As a result of his column in Folha da Manhã and the articles he published in trade magazines (such as HABITAT), in which he championed these movements, he eventually became the spokesman for concrete art in São Paulo.

 

“Concrete” art (understood by São Paulo artists as being governed by geometric-mathematical principles) and its subsequent opposite number, the “neo-concrete” art produced by artists in Rio de Janeiro (which favored a more sensory form of abstract geometry), were both radically opposed to any type of figurative or nationalist art of the kind that had flourished in previous decades. Cordeiro approached the question from a (pictorial) reality consisting of lines and colors that were impervious to any sort of illustration, which was an ideal position from which to work with the visual values of contemporary life. 

 

Two of Cordeiro’s articles provide complementary reading on the subject discussed in this essay: “Novas tendências e nova figuração” [doc. no. 1110840] claims that Nova Figuração was a response to the conflict between abstract and figurative art; and “Realismo: ‘musa da vingança e da tristeza’” [doc. no. 1110839], where he states his conviction that the advances made by non-figurative art are irreversible, and that the new trends (nts) cannot be confused with figurative art.  

Leia este comentário crítico em português
Annotations

O artigo foi publicado no contexto de uma acirrada discussão entre artistas e críticos em torno do figurativismo e do abstracionismo. Na capital paulista, Waldemar Cordeiro, o futuro líder do Grupo Ruptura, por meio de sua coluna no jornal Folha da Manhã e de artigos publicados em revistas especializadas, foi um dos principais defensores da abstração. Os adeptos dessa tendência se opunham sobretudo ao modernismo das décadas anteriores predominantemente figurativo e de teor nacionalista. O autor considera que a realidade das cores e linhas é em si relevante para a vida contemporânea, sem se subordinar a esquemas de representação.

 

g- Contribuição de artistas ao projeto construtivo brasileiro

h- A introdução da arte abstrata no Brasil

h- Teoria e crítica sobre abstracionismo

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Researcher
Heloisa Espada
Team
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Credit
© Waldermar Cordeiro Estate Private Archive, 2013
Location
Acervo Pessoal Ana Maria Belluzzo