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Synopsis

This is the text of the announcement of Waldemar Cordeiro’s exhibition at the Galeria Astréia in São Paulo in 1963. In the text, the physicist and art critic Mário Schenberg outlines a view of concrete art that has little or nothing to do with the geometrical forms created by the artist, theoretician, and leader of the concrete art movement. In the critic’s opinion, Cordeiro has broken with Cubist tradition while still remaining loyal to the principles of concrete art. Cordeiro has once again resorted to the paintbrush and manual artisan work to combine serial structures with spontaneously applied colors; his works express autonomous images, or a sort of “thought in action.” The Brazilian concrete artist’s work proves that art that is neither Expressionist nor symbolic can ignore rationalism and intellectualism.    

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Synopsis

Texto de divulgação da exposição de Waldemar Cordeiro na Galeria Astréia, São Paulo, em 1963. O físico e crítico de arte Mário Schenberg apresenta a concepção de arte concreta desvinculada de formas geométricas proposta por Cordeiro. Segundo Schenberg, o artista rompe com a tradição cubista, mas permanece fiel aos postulados da arte concreta. Retoma o pincel e o artesanato, combina estruturas seriais a cores aplicadas com espontaneidade. Suas obras são imagens autônomas, uma espécie de pensamento em ação. As experiências de Cordeiro provam que uma arte não expressionista e não simbólica pode fugir do racionalismo e do intelectualismo.

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Annotations

The combative painter, designer, landscape painter, art critic, and theoretician Waldemar Cordeiro (1925–73) outlines his ideas on theory and practice in the field of art and technological advances. After being part of the Ruptura concrete art group (1952) in the 1950s, and creating his semantic objects—or “Popcretos”—in the 1960s, he continued with his artistic experiments. With the help of, for example, the German thinker Max Bense, the “Pop” concept led him to a dialectical approach that fluctuated between “things” and “realities.” Cordeiro is convinced that contemporary art relies on an objective language that presents things (or semantic items) that have nothing to do with illustration, which he calls “semantic concrete art.” He discusses this idea, and others, in his essay published in HABITAT, the architectural magazine: “Novas tendências e nova figuração” [doc. no. 1110840].

 

The concept of “current realism under a critical action” referred to by Cordeiro echoes some of the themes in his important earlier writings, such as “[Produto direto de uma atitude crítica]” [doc. no. 1087239], which was written for an exhibition of his works in Campinas (1960). On the other hand, this document should be interpreted in terms of a greater development that he writes about under the title of “Realismo: ‘musa da vingança e da tristeza’” [doc. no. 1110839]. The reality that Cordeiro is referring to is of a technological nature, which is why, since the previous decade, in the 1950s, he began to use mathematical concepts and geometrical forms in his visual art.

 

This is an article by the top physics theoretician in Brazil, the politician and art critic Mário Schenberg (1914–90), who usually published scientific articles on thermodynamics, quantum and statistical physics, astrophysics, and mathematics. He was president of the Brazilian Physics Society (1979–81) and Director of the Physics Department at USP (1953–61). He served two terms as a congressman for the state of São Paulo. His association with the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) had a devastating effect on his life after the military coup in 1964, when he was stripped of all his political, academic, and personal rights. His article about Cordeiro, written prior to the fascist putsch, explored the unconventional subject of artistic schools, trends, and movements.  

Cordeiro actually began painting his series of irregular shapes and forms in the early 1960s. So, when Schenberg compared Cordeiro’s paintings to Wassily Kandinsky’s work and drew attention to Cordeiro’s free use of color, Schenberg was identifying the very characteristics that Cordeiro had once criticized in other concrete works of art. Schenberg is mistaken, however, when he uses the term “neo-concrete” to refer to that particular phase of Cordeiro’s work and to artists in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, since that misrepresents the radical split between those two groups, a division that, to this day defines art criticism in Brazil.   

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Annotations

Waldemar Cordeiro é um dos pioneiros da arte concreta no Brasil. Atua também como crítico, sendo um dos principais divulgadores da arte abstrata e concreta no país desde o final dos anos quarenta. Por meio de textos publicados na imprensa paulista, afirma-se como líder e porta-voz do movimento concretista em São Paulo. Durante a década de cinqüenta, trabalha sobretudo com conceitos matemáticos e formas geométricas. No início dos anos sessenta, passa a pintar manchas e formas irregulares seriadas. Ao aproximar a pintura de Cordeiro de Kandinsky e destacar a liberdade cromática de suas telas, Mário Schenberg chama atenção para características que, anteriormente, haviam sido criticadas pelo próprio Cordeiro nos trabalhos de outros concretistas. Ao empregar o termo Neoconcretismo para nomear tanto desdobramentos da arte concreta no Rio de Janeiro, quanto em São Paulo, Schenberg relativiza a dicotomia entre concretos paulistas e neoconcretos cariocas.
Ver também:
CORDEIRO, Waldemar. "produto direto de uma atitude crítica..." Folheto de exposição. Galeria Aremar, Campinas, 1960
CORDEIRO, Waldemar. O expressionismo fordista. [Periódico não identificado], [1952].

 

g- Arte concreta

g- Contribuição de artistas ao projeto construtivo brasileiro

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Researcher
Heloisa Espada
Team
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Credit
Ana Clara Schenberg, filha de Mario Schenberg, São Paulo, BR
Location
Biblioteca do Museu de Arte Contemporânea - MAC/USP