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  • ICAA Record ID
    English; Portuguese
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    BRETT, Guy. Schendel. In: SALZSTEIN, Sonia (org.). No vazio do mundo: Mira Schendel. São Paulo: Marca d’água, 1996. p.268.
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Guy Brett provides an analysis of the Droguinhas series by Mira Schendel. The name of the series is a word that the artist’s daughter, Ada, made up to refer to “little nothings” or worthless things. Brett considers the work a challenge to the notion of sculpture insofar as their material, form, and durability (as trifles) are not in keeping with the traditional language of the medium. Brett relates this work by Schendel to Man Ray’s “lampshade” in that both react against the audience’s expectations and make use of the absurd as creative strategy. Brett pays particular attention to how the artist has pursued the infinitesimal at the level of material and of language in order to stimulate perception of space. In works of this sort, Schendel gives space a great energetic charge, placing the work on the horizon of probability.

Leia esta sinopse em português

O texto analisa as "Droguinhas" de Mira Schendel, consideradas pelo autor um desafio à noção de escultura, dado que seu material, forma e durabilidade não correspondem ao ideal tradicional dessa linguagem artística. Guy Brett relaciona esse trabalho de Schendel às "lampshade" de Man Ray, na sua atitude reativa às expectativas do público, através do uso do absurdo como estratégia criativa. Chama atenção para a sua busca pelo ínfimo, em termos materiais e de linguagem, como agente estimulante da percepção do espaço, ao dotá-lo de uma grande carga energética, promovendo-o a campo de possibilidades.

Revert to English synopsis

First published in Guy Brett’s book Kinetic Art, this essay attests to the intellectual intensity of the relationship between its author and Brazilian art—with which Brett first came into contact in Paris through Sergio Camargo in 1964. The next year, Brett began corresponding with Mira Schendel, who would exhibit in London in 1966. Brett would write on Schendel’s radical work again three decades later, in 1996, when he further developed the arguments laid out in this brief essay. That later text was published under the title “Ativamente o vazio” [see doc. no. 1111214] in a book edited by Sônia Salzstein. 


Born in Switzerland, artist Mira Schendel (1919–88) settled in Brazil in 1952. She became widely known for drawings on rice paper as well as pictorial and three-dimensional work that addressed philosophy, in particular anthroposophy, from early on. She made her first monotypes on rice paper in 1964, and she produced some two hundred drawings that year, each one with phrases or words in Italian, German, and/or Portuguese, the languages that due to the artist’s background, were most familiar to her. With these works, she participated in the VIII São Paulo Biennial in 1965. For the Droguinhas series discussed here, which was produced in 1966, the artist twisted and knotted the rice paper support.


London-based art critic, curator, and international lecturer Guy Brett (b. 1942) was the cofounder, with Paul Keeler, of the gallery Signals and of the publication Newsbulletin of Signals. He worked closely with Mira Schendel, holding a solo show of her work at Signals in 1966. Brett’s essays, which almost always have a radical or experimental bent, are published regularly in international art magazines; he has also written monographic essays. He did significant work on Kinetic art from the time of the emergence of that movement in Europe and Venezuela. His widely known books include Kinetic Art: The Language of Movement (London: Studio Vista, 1968); Force Fields: Phases of the Kinetic (London: Hayward Gallery, 2000); Carnival of Perception: Selected Writings on Art (London: Institute of International Visual Arts, 2004); and this text, Brasil experimental - arte/vida: proposições e paradoxos (org. Kátia Maciel) (Rio de Janeiro: Contra Capa Livraria, 2005).


For more information on Brett’s work on Brazilian art, see “Uma cronologia de encontros, 1964-2005” [doc. no. 1111303].

Leia este comentário crítico em português

O texto foi publicado originalmente no livro de Guy Brett "Kinetic art - the language of movement", editado em Londres, pela Studio Vista, em 1968. O ensaio é testemunho do contato do crítico inglês com a arte brasileira, quando conhece Sergio Camargo, em Paris, em 1964. Em 1965 o crítico inicia correspondência com Mira Schendel, que expõe em Londres em 1966. Voltará a escrever sobre o trabalho da artista em 1996, desenvolvendo alguns dos argumentos expostos neste pequeno texto no artigo mais alentado "Ativamente o vazio" , publicado no mesmo livro organizado por Sônia Salzstein.

Revert to English annotations
Equipe Brasil: Fernanda Pitta
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Courtesy of the Archive of Guy Brett, London
Biblioteca da Faculdade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo