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    In this interview with Marcos Augusto Gonçalves, Paulo Sérgio Duarte discusses the contributions of constructive art of the 1950s to Brazilian art history, and the “precarious” state of Brazilian contemporary art. Duarte argues that, although the art world did not have a singular figure comparable to Machado de Assis’s impact on Brazilian literature, the artists involved with the “constructive program” constituted a “collective Machado”—that is, as a group they brought an analogous sense of innovation, sophistication, and modernity to Brazilian art.


    Duarte goes on to discuss the “promiscuous” links between curators, cultural institutions, and the art market, whereby “contemporary aesthetic values ??are confused with market values, so high-quality artists may be ignored by institutions, exhibitions and collections, since they are not recognized by the market or by these curators.” He argues that this confusion is especially dangerous in Brazil, where “the precariousness of our cultural institutions is the same as that of our water and sewage networks or our basic education,” which undermines a robust academic or critical environment that would distance institutions from the operations of the market. The weakness of official policies that support institutions, he says, leave the cultural sphere impoverished.


    Marcos Augusto Gonçalves (b. 1956) is a critic and editor of the Opinion page of the São Paulo newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. This article appeared in the Folha Ilustrada section on April 12, 2006. He interviews Paulo Sérgio Duarte, professor of art history at the Centro de Estudos Sociais Aplicados of the Universidade Candido Mendes in Rio de Janeiro. As Gonçalves writes, Duarte is the former director of the National Institute of Plastic Arts/Funarte, a former member of the Art and Culture Council of the São Paulo Biennial, and Curator of the 5th Mercosul Biennial in Porto Alegre. He is the author of several books, including Anos 60 - Transformações da arte no Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Campos Gerais, 1998); Waltercio Caldas (São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2001) and Carlos Vergara (Porto Alegre: Instituto Santander Cultural, 2003), as well as many articles and essays on modern and contemporary art.


    Duarte references the Brazilian writer Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839–1908), widely regarded as the greatest writer of Brazilian literature and as a singularly transformative figure in defining a modern realist, distinctively Brazilian style. While there was no singular Brazilian painter as influential as Machado de Assis, he says, as a group the constructive painters of the 1950s defined a similarly distinctive modern sophistication. As a supplement to the interview, this document includes graphics summarizing the major events of the period as well as a photograph of Antonio Dias, who, according to Duarte, “is a case of an artist who achieved early success and maintained quality” over the decades.


    [For more by Marcos Augusto Gonçalves, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: “Augusto de Campos 50 anos depois” (doc. no. 1316262) and “Polêmicas da arte abstrata no Brasil” (doc. no. 1305852).


    For complementary reading, see by Raul Córdula “Manifiesto de la precariedad del NAC” (doc. no. 1111430); by Paulo Sérgio Duarte “O espetáculo do fetiche” (doc. no. 1111399), “Estéticas espontâneas num centro urbano da Paraíba: o exemplo da casa” (doc. no. 1111206), and “A trilha da trama” (doc. no. 1111067); by Fernando Cocchiarale and Paulo Sergio Duarte “Entrevista” (doc. no. 1110517); and by José Geraldo Vieira “O contingente brasileiro na 3a Bienal de arte de São Paulo: preámbulo necessário” (doc. no. 1110833)].