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    The I Bienal at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo was launched in 1951 and became the first exhibition outside of North America and Europe to raise as much attention as the Bienal de Venezia and the Documenta in Kassel, Germany.


    In 1957, the IV São Paulo Bienal was held in the Ciccillo Matarazzo pavilion in the Parque do Ibirapuera, a three-story space designed by a team led by architects Oscar Niemeyer and Helio Uchôa, and which provides 30,000 square meters of exhibition space. In that year artists from forty-three countries presented their work and their views about contemporary art to diverse audiences. Exhibitions included Marc Chagall (France) and “Bauhaus” (Germany) retrospectives, a surrealist selection from Belgium, and works from Giorgio Morandi (Italy), Ben Nicholson (England), and Jackson Pollock (United States).



    The exhibited works at the IV São Paulo Bienal were selected according to three categories: painting, sculpture-design, and engraving. The jury for visual arts included such renowned personalities as Lourival Gomes Machado (1917–1967), Livio Abramo (1903–1993), José Geraldo Vieira (1897–1977), Flávio d'Aquino, and Armando Ferrari.


    In their presentation, explaining the criteria used for the selection, the jury said that the exhibited works should provide a scope of “modern” tendencies and should display the technical skills to accomplish the purpose of the work. The pieces were also chosen for their intrinsic value (leaving aside external considerations). The jury also raised their concerns about the problems of trying to create continuity in the Brazilian selection at the Biennals, but expressed their hope that the experience of simply gathering those works together would eventually create a more permanent result.


    The jury selected works by Aluíso Carvão (1920–2001), Willys de Castro (1926–1988), Alfredo Volpi (1896–1988), Sergio Camargo (1930–1990), Luiz Sacilotto (1924–2003), Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), and Samson Flexor (1907–1971), among others, as representative of the tendencies in Brazilian art.
    One of the works exhibited at the IV São Paulo Bienal—and now part of the Leirner Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston—was Tema circular 1 (1957) by Aluíso Carvão. The artist was born in Belém in 1918. In 1946, after trying sculpture and set design, he created his first paintings, in a late Impressionist style. Carvão then joined the Grupo Frente at their shows in Rio de Janeiro. In the mid-1950s, he continued his artistic search and joined the Concretists, with whom he took part in exhibitions in 1956–57 (Rio, São Paulo, and Tokyo).