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In this letter dated June 20, 1988, the English critic and curator Guy Brett expresses his gratitude to the Brazilian collector Adolpho Leirner and his wife, Fulvia Leirner, for the time they spent together in São Paolo. Brett is especially thankful for the time Mr. Leirner took in explaining the works in his collection and situating them historically. The critic also shows his appreciation toward meeting Jac Leirner—the Leirner’s daughter and an artist in her own right. Brett takes the opportunity to notify Mr. Leirner that he will soon be receiving an official letter from the Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery (London) asking for the loan of several of his works, such as Bichos [Critters], for an upcoming Latin American art exhibition.


The exhibition to which Guy Brett (born 1942) refers to is most likely Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, 1820–1980, whose exhibition catalogue edited by Dawn Ades (born 1943) has been a seminal book in the study of Latin American art. The exhibition was on view May 18–August 6, 1989, at the Hayward Gallery in London. A year later in 1990, Brett included the work of Jac Leirner (born 1961), along with four other Brazilian artists, in an exhibition he organized titled Transcontinental: Nine Latin American Artists at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. Brett, an influential critic in the European art circuits, was one of the first international curators to take note of the Brazilian Neo-Concrete artists and exhibit them abroad. Brett’s relationship with Brazil and Brazilian art began when The Times in London assigned him to cover the VIII São Paulo Biennial in 1965. In large part thanks to Brett, the late 1960s–1980s were auspicious times for Brazilian art abroad, for many artists such as Lygia Clark (1920–1988), Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), and Mira Schendel (1919–1988), among others, were able to showcase their work while the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–89) was becoming more and more antagonistic.

Marcela C. Guerrero
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
Courtesy of the Archive of Guy Brett, London.
The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art.
Adolpho Leirner Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston