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Synopsis

The catalogue for a solo exhibition of work by sculptor Maria Martins held at the Valentine Gallery in New York in 1943 included a group of texts on myths from the Amazon, specifically legends about mythological characters like Cobra Norato (addressed by Raúl Bopp in a modernist poem entitled Cobra Norato: Nheengatú da margem, a work championed by the anthropophagic movement), the Cobra Grande, the Boiúna, Aioká, the Boto (a dolphin that seduces maidens), Yara (the woman who turns into a canoe), Iacy, and—surprisingly—Yemanjá (the mother of the waters and a figure whose origin lies in the Yoruba gods from West Africa).

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Synopsis

Conjunto de textos sobre mitos amazônicos no catálogo da exposição individual da escultora brasileira Maria Martins, na Galeria Valentine, Nova York, em 1943. Apresentam lendas sobre personagens da mitologia amazônica como Cobra Norato, Yara, Boiúna, Cobra Grande, Aioká, Boto, Iacy e Yemanjá.

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Annotations

The exhibition entitled Amazonia gained widespread recognition on the New York art scene for sculptor Maria Martins (1894-1973). The show, which took place in the forties, featured cast bronze sculpture employing organic forms; the theme of the work was the mythology of the Amazon. Martins, who had spent much of her life outside Brazil, was one of the few artists from the country to be closely tied to the Surrealist movement. When this exhibition was held, she was living in New York, where she had come into contact with Surrealists, such as poet André Breton, and visual artists Yves Tanguy and Max Ernst. This catalogue demonstrates the primitivist bent of Maria Martins’s brand of Surrealism.

The exhibition catalogue for the show at the Valentine Gallery, which opened on March 22, 1943, also contained a brief text by Jorge Zarur entitled “The Legend of the Origin.” A decade later—in 1956—French poet Benjamin Péret would write the text “Nada evoca tanto as mensagens da natureza quanto a obra de Maria...” on the occasion of a show of Martins’ work held at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. A text by Brazilian poet Murilo Mendes entitled “A ação de Maria como escultora consistiu em...” would also be published in conjunction with that show in Rio.

As the wife of a Brazilian diplomat, Maria lived for periods in Europe, Asia, the United States, and other countries in South America. A printmaker, designer, and writer, she showed her work in group and solo exhibitions. She participated in a number of the Bienals de São Paulo, which she was instrumental in founding. The film The Secret of Marcel Duchamp (BBC, 1997) tells the story of her torrid romance with that French-American artist, the creator of Étant donnés [Given]. The article “Marcel and Maria” by Francis Naumann published in Art in America in 2001 provides more information on their relationship, and argues that Duchamp’s relationships with two women—Maria Martins and his wife Alexina, “Teeny”—were crucial to the creative process that led to the making of Étant donnés.

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A exposição Amazonia by Maria marca o momento em que a obra de Maria Martins passa a ser bem aceita por parte do meio artístico nova-iorquino. Nela, a artista apresentou esculturas de formas orgânicas fundidas em bronze, cujo tema são mitos amazônicos. Tendo vivido por muitos anos fora do Brasil, Martins é uma das poucas artistas brasileiras a estabelecer vínculos com o movimento surrealista. Nos anos quarenta, quando morou em Nova York, manteve contato com expoentes do surrealismo como o escritor André Breton e os artistas Marcel Duchamp, Yves Tanguy e Max Ernest. O documento revela o caráter primitivista do surrealismo desenvolvido pela artista. Os mitos amazônicos nele descritos são também personagens do livro "Cobra Norato" (1931), de Raul Bopp, obra central do Movimento Antropofágico brasileiro, ocorrido em São Paulo, entre o fim da década de vinte e início da seguinte.

Ver também: BRETON, André. [L'esprit, durant ces dernières années...]. Nova York: Julien Levy Gallery, 1947; GREENBERG, Clement. Review of a Group Exhibition at the Art of This Century Gallery, and the Exhibitions of Maria Martins and Luis Quintanilla. The Nation, 03 jun. 1944; MENDES, Murilo. [A ação de Maria como escultora consistiu...]. Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, 1956; PÉRET, Benjamin. [Nada evoca tanto quanto a obra de Maria ...]. Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, 1956; ZARUR, Jorge. The Legend of the origin. Nova York, Valentine Gallery, 22 mar. 1943; BOPP, Raul. Cobra Norato: Nheengatú da margem esquerda do ... São Paulo: Irmãos Ferraz, 1931.

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Researcher
Heloisa Espada
Team
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Location
Biblioteca do Museu de Arte Contemporânea - MAC/USP