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, Walmir Ayala introduces an exhibition of serigraphic works by Milton Dacosta at Documenta Galeria de Arte in São Paulo. The works exemplify an important stage in the artist’s career—the 1950s—when “the elf of abstractionism” negotiated the analytical geometry of concrete art while maintaining the material “pleasure” of somewhat conventional themes, such as human figures, cities, and still lives. Ayala highlights Dacosta’s compositional minimalism and refined use of color—“an unmistakable color in the panorama of contemporary Brazilian painting.” Thus, in the collaborative production of this new series, which Dacosta undertook with printmakers at Lithos Edições de Arte, reproducing the colors of his paintings took on a special importance. It is a testament to the care and perfectionism of this collaboration, which lasted almost a year (during which time “the artist could have designed an exhibition of the most elaborate oils”) that “the same velvet aura vibrates from the apparently plated areas, which contradict the limitations of the machine with the irreversible touch of the human being.” In other words, the prints retain the “spiritual integrity” of Dacosta’s paintings, and “elevate the serial technique to the category of work of art.”
Milton Rodrigues da Costa (1915–88) was a painter, designer, printmaker, and illustrator from Niterói. In 1931, he helped to found the Núcleo Bernardelli, a group of young students at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes who were interested in updating Brazilian art instruction methods. In 1945, he moved to New York to study at the Art Students League. The following year, he traveled to Europe, settling in Paris to study at the Académie de La Grande Chaumière. Through Brazilian painter Cícero Dias, Dacosta met Pablo Picasso and Georges Rouault, and attended Georges Braque's ateliers. After exhibiting at the Salon d’Automne in 1947, he returned to Brazil and married the painter Maria Leontina. As Ayala mentions in this document, the 1950s represent the pinnacle of Dacosta’s interest in geometric abstraction. This exhibition, which took place in December 1982, allowed him to return to his geometric work through new serigraphic processes, not merely reproducing earlier paintings but recreating them within the possibilities and limitations of a different medium. Collaborating with brothers Genaro and Guilherme Rodrigues, the owners of Lithos Edições de Arte in Rio de Janeiro, Dacosta used printmaking to search once again for precise line, exact color, and subtle tone.
As he notes in this essay, the Brazilian poet, novelist, and critic Walmir Ayala (1933–91) was an active participant (and “observer”) in Rio de Janeiro’s cultural milieu since moving there in 1956. From 1962–68, he published a column on children’s literature in the newspaper Jornal do Brasil, and from 1968–74, he published a column on art criticism. His criticism also appeared in Folha de S. Paulo, Correio da Manhã, and Última Hora.
[For more by Walmir Ayala, see in the ICAA digital archive the following essays: “Apresentação” (doc. no. 1293867), “Dia das bandeiras” (doc. no. 1110640), “Esculturas de Parede” (doc. no. 1305334), “Fardo factual” (doc. no. 1110624), and “Invenção e coerência” (doc. no. 1305056).
For more on Milton Dacosta, see by Reynaldo Roels, Jr. “Afirmação de refinamento” (doc. no. 1316923)].