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This article written by Jayme Mauricio for the Rio de Janeiro newspaper Correio da Manhã starts with an anecdote. Having had his electricity cut off the night Mauricio came to interview him, Milton Dacosta, the winner of the national prize at the III São Paulo Biennial, carried out the conversation in candlelight. He confesses that he never expected to win; thinking instead that José Pancetti or Ivan Serpa would win the prestigious award. Dacosta goes on to comment about the other awards granted at the Biennial and whether or not he agrees with the results. For instance, while he likes the sculptures Maria Martins presented at the III Biennial, he believes the title of best national sculptor should have been given to Franz Weissmann. He also gives his opinion about the special exhibitions dedicated to the work of Cândido Portinari and Lasar Segall. When voicing his recommendation for the special exhibitions of the next Biennial in 1957, Dacosta mentions that the honor should go to Alberto da Veiga Guignard or Owaldo Goeldi. The interviewer then interjects, adding the name of Emiliano Di Cavalcanti to the list, to which Dacosta replies that Di Cavalcanti has gone “gaga” [senile] and his works are irrelevant and of poor quality. The article concludes with some final musings about what art means to Dacosta.
This document is part of The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Milton Rodrigues da Costa (1915–1988), better known as Milton Dacosta, was a painter, designer, printmaker, and illustrator from Brazil. He was married to fellow Brazilian artist, Maria Leontina (1917–1984). Dacosta, who began his career painting landscapes and other figurative scenes, was part of the Núcleo Bernardelli, an artist collective founded in 1931 and active until 1941. After traveling around Europe in the mid-1940s, Dacosta returned to Brazil in 1947 and in 1950 began painting in an abstract geometric style.
The São Paulo Biennial, founded in 1951, is the second oldest next to the Venice Biennial. One controversial point about the third edition in 1955, was that many people thought it was absurd for the Biennial jury to award the Grand Prize to French painter Fernand Léger (1881–1955). Many critics thought that the Léger retrospective of 38 works should have been considered hors concours and thus it should have been out of the competition.