The editorial categories are research topics that have guided researchers during the recovery phase and continue to be the impetus behind the Documents Project’s digital archive and the Critical Documents book series. Developed by the project’s Editorial Board, each of the teams analyzed this framework and adapted it to their local contexts in developing their research objectives and work plans during the Recovery Phase. Learn more on the Editorial Framework page.
Representação brasileira para a XXXIV Bienal de Veneza [Brazilian Delegation at the XXXIV Venice Biennale], the catalogue organized by the Foreign Ministry of Brazil, includes an introduction, a brief biography of each artist, and a list of their exhibitions and awards. The catalogue also includes a checklist of the objects shown at the biennial. For this event held in 1968, Lygia Clark, Mary Vieira, Anna Letycia Quadros, Mira Schendel, and Farnese de Andrade were selected to represent the landscape of Brazilian art in the late 1960s.
Jayme Mauricio, a prominent journalist and art critic, was chosen to be the curator for the Brazilian delegation at this Biennale. He explains in the introduction the elements that he considered most relevant. He wanted to put together “strong and authentic personalities” whose works would offer a view of the most valid aspects of the varied examples of Brazilian visual arts. His next concern was to “point out values of depth and authenticity” that he found in the highly controversial and innovative proposals of the artists selected. Mauricio here refers to a deliberate avoidance of painting—and all the iconographical aspects of it—to highlight those forms, techniques, and materials that would “identify the art of tomorrow, the art of the 21st century.”
Mauricio paid special attention to the room dedicated to Lygia Clark, as it showed 10 years of her works and the research and experimentation behind them. The selection also reflected the strengthening of her interest in environmental and sensory factors.
This document is part of The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Lygia Clark (1920–1988) began her studies with the landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx in 1947. Three years later she moved to Paris, where she studied for two years with Isaac Dobrinsky, Fernand Léger, and Arpad Szenes. In 1953, she returned to Brazil where she became one of the founding members of Grupo Frente in Rio de Janeiro, joining in the first National Concrete Art Exhibition (1957).
At this time, Clark and Helio Oiticica cofounded the Neo-Concretist movement, fusing modern European geometric abstraction with Brazilian cultural flavor. One of the goals of this group was to create intuitive, yet expressive and subjective art. As part of this idea, they developed an interest that the artwork should be manipulated by the spectator; the object and person should become a single entity. As Clark stated: “We reject the artist who seeks to create a complete expression in a work without the participation of the viewer.” They utilized three-dimensional moveable figures so that the spectator, by manipulating or even just standing in the space of the piece, becomes, in effect, the artist.
This was the concept behind Clark’s bichos, which means critters—living beings. Clark’s objects have life by virtue of the fact that the links connecting the pieces of the object make the viewer think of a spine. As Jayme Mauricio—the journalist and curator for the XXXIV Biennale—expressed, there is an “unusual, organic dialogue, without any interrupted expression, with no help from electricity, luminous reflections, form or colors.” These art objects opened a new dimension in the gestural and tactile process and method.