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.
In this essay, for the catalogue and landmark exhibition Projeto Construtivo Brasileiro na Arte, Júlio Katinsky analyzes the relationship between the Concrete art movement in São Paulo and industrial design. In both areas, he writes, it is difficult to separate the ideology proposed by the movement from the circumstances in which the participating artists lived. He highlights the work of modernist architects such as Rino Levi and João Batista Vilanova Artigas, who, like the Concrete artists, experimented with geometric forms and industrial materials. Local wood and new technologies such as reinforced concrete and asbestos cement tiles allowed for abstracted architectural forms that served multiple functions. Meanwhile, modern houses demanded new furnishings to equip them; “ateliers” of architects and designers supplied the residences of doctors, lawyers, and university professors. Despite the approaches shared by “pure artists” and “not so pure artists,” however, Katinsky writes that “the Concretists remained plastic artists in the traditional sense of the term.” Perhaps the most important contribution of Concrete art, he concludes, “occurred after the end of the movement, with the diaspora of its members and abandonment of its programmatic principles.”
Júlio Katinsky (b. 1932) was born in Salto, São Paulo and graduated from the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo (FAU-USP) in 1957. A prolific practicing architect since the 1960s, he was also a professor at that University, where he earned his doctorate in 1973. Part of a generation of architects that included Lucio Costa, João Batista Vilanova Artigas, Oscar Niemeyer and Rino Levi—whose work he discusses in this essay—Katinsky became well-known for designing public school buildings and for his research in areas of school architecture and intellectual growth. He designed several pieces of furniture, including the famous Katinsky armchair (1959), a paradigmatic example of modern furniture design in Brazil.
This text appears in the catalogue Projeto Construtivo Brasileiro na Arte, which accompanied an exhibition organized in São Paulo by Aracy Amaral (b. 1930) and by Lygia Pape (1927–2004). It had a great impact in Brazil, and it led to a new reading of the meaning of the rationalist movements in the nation’s art. In 1977, the show was presented at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, and later at the MAM-RJ (Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro).
[For complementary reading from this exhibition, see the following texts in the ICAA digital archive: by Aracy Amaral “Concretos em São Paulo/Neoconcretos no Rio” (doc. no. 1315176); by Lygia Pape “Projeto construtivo brasileiro na arte” (doc. no. 1110680); by Ferreira Gullar “Arte Concreta” (doc. no. 1315020), “Da arte concreta à arte neoconcreta” (doc. no. 1315036), “Arte neoconcreta, uma contribuição brasileira” (doc. no. 1315052), and “Resposta a Cordeiro” (doc. no. 1315118); by Jorge Romero Brest “A arquitetura é a grande arte de nosso tempo—1948: Romero Brest em São Paulo” (doc. no. 1314972); and by Tomás Maldonado “O problema da educação artística depois da Bauhaus” (doc. no. 1315069)].