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In this newspaper article from November 1968, the Brazilian art critic Enock Sacramento interviews artist Luís Sacilotto on the recent opening of an exhibition of his work during the Salon de Arte Contemporânea de Santo André, the town in the state of São Paulo where he was born. Held at the municipality’s Palácio da Cultura, the commemorative exhibit [Sala Especial no. 1] featured thirty works from 1944 through the 1960s, many of which had never been seen there before. Sacramento calls attention to Sacilotto’s international stature—including his notable participation in the large-scale survey of Concrete art that Max Bill organized in 1960 for the Helmhaus in Zurich—contrasting it to the relative anonymity that the artist enjoyed in his hometown. Moreover, Sacilotto’s comments reflect his appreciation for the opportunity to present to Santo André audiences works spanning a long trajectory that reflected his transition from figuration to constructive art.
This document is part of The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
This incomplete clipping from the Diário do Grande ABC—the local newspaper for São Paulo’s Greater ABC region where Santo André is located—is, unfortunately, the best available copy that has been located of Sacramento’s 1968 interview. It bears witness to a persistent interest in the work of Luís Sacilotto (1924-2003) among Brazil’s intellectual circles. The artist was one of the signees of the foundational manifesto of São Paulo’s Grupo Ruptura (1952) [see doc. no. 771349 for print copy and no. 1232213 for manuscript]. Along with Waldemar Cordeiro, Geraldo de Barros, Lothar Charoux, Leopoldo Haar, Kazimir Fejer, and Anatalo Wladislaw, Sacilotto was an important precursor of the São Paulo-based Concretos, a group that together with the Neo-Concretos of Rio de Janeiro, ultimately triggered the parallel processes of modernization and internationalization of Brazilian art. At face value, the apparent will toward order of the Concretos, in particular, resonated with the kindred ideals behind the country’s economic and industrial modernization of the 1950s. As such, their influence was felt even beyond the sphere of geometric abstraction. Until the early 1960s, for example, some of the defining values of Brazilian Constructivism—objectivity, clarity of thought, reduction and simplification of aesthetic means, insistence on the essential, abandonment of matter driven and subjective excesses—transcended painting and were adopted as a sort of continuum across the Brazilian cultural sphere. The 1960 exhibition that Sacramento mentions in the article is Konkrete kunst. 50 jahre entwicklung [Concrete Art: Fifty Years of Development], which the Swiss artist Max Bill (1908-1994) organized at the Helmhaus in Zurich. Preceded by Konkrete kunst [Concrete Art] of 1944 (Basel), also curated by Bill, the 1960 show retraced not only fifty years of development but, more importantly, the strengthening of an international network of Concrete artists from Europe and the Americas. Besides Sacilotto, the Brazilian contingency for the exhibition included Lygia Pape and Hercules Barsotti. Bill also included a number of artists from Argentina in the show.