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    Pignatari : vanguarda e Raul Porto / Décio Pignatari
    Correio da Manhã (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil). -- Dezem. 11, 1960
    Newspaper article – Poem
    Pignatari, Décio. “Pignatari: Vanguarda e Raul Porto.” Correio da Manhã (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil), December 11, 1960.

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This critique by Decio Pignatari regards the artist Raul Porto (1936-1999) on the occasion of the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea [Leirner Prize for Contemporary Art], 1960, and was reproduced in Jayme Mauricio’s column in Itinerário das Artes Plásticas.


In 1960, the poet Decio Pignatari (1927–2012) was asked to review the art work of his friend Raul Porto, which being exhibited as part of the Leirner Prize that year. In his critique, Pignatari pointed to the conceptual complexity that a work of art can create and which becomes the essence of the concept vanguarda (avant-garde or new art). Pignatari focused on the steady—though not linear—development of this term as it adapted, reinventing itself in each place and time. For him, the term vanguarda was reflected in Brazilian art in the work of the Paulistas and Campinas artists, the latter including Tomas Perinas and Raul Porto.


Pignatari took the opportunity to imbue his critique with poetic language to describe the conceptual dialogues in Porto’s work. For example, he makes the following reference to the interplay between rigid geometry and optic effects: “Raul Porto entrou na luta do preciso impreciso” [“Raul Porto has joined the battle of precise imprecision”]. In this way, the critic played an important role in the art itself, by adding a quality to the work from a different artistic discipline.


Raul Porto (1936-1999), a native of Cidade de Dois Córregos, showed an early interest in painting and graphic design, particularly in creating designs to accompany literary works. Some of his first pieces include illustrations for the poems of Alberto Amêndola Heinzl at O Messidor, the newspaper of the Academia Estudantina Panamericana de Campinas, in 1952. This interest was renewed in 1957, when he illustrated “Minarete,” the literary page of the Jornal Correio Popular de Campinas. And three years later, he assumed the directorship of “Minarete-experiência,” the page on literature and art of this same journal.


During these years Porto also participated in several exhibitions, including the First (1957) and Second (1958) Exhibitions of Contemporary Art in Campinas. At the latter exhibition, the artists, together with the journalist and poet Alberto Heinzl, formed the Grupo Vanguarda, publishing a manifesto of their ideas in the Jornal do Centro de Ciências, Letras e Artes de Campinas [Journal of the Center for Science, Letters and Art of Companias]. With a similar tone to that of the Manifesto Ruptura, the Grupo Vanguarda considered the art of the past to always be in danger of going stale, but that they embodied its renovation. The manifesto thus suggests that artistic renewal be constant and progressive ("we will not be old tomorrow because we will have changed") and urges that debate be employed to rid art of mysticism and create in it "consistency with the current stage of civilization."


Porto acted as spokesman for Grupo Vanguarda and in 1959, he managed the exhibition of the group’s work under the name “Artistas de Campinas” at Galeria de Arte das Folhas, São Paulo. A year later his work, together with that of Tomas Perina, also a member of the Grupo Vanguarda, was selected to be included in the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, 1960. This award was presented at Galeria de Arte das Folhas. The booklet for this exhibition includes critiques by renowned artists such as Waldemar Cordeiro (1925-1973), Oswaldo de Andrade filho (1914-1972), and Wolfgang Pfeiffer, in addition to Decio Pignatari. See also doc. no. 1232976.

Nora Nava-Heymann
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
Décio Pignatari, 1960
Adolpho Leirner Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston