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In this newspaper article, dated June 20, 1954, Walter Zanini covers an exhibition of the “Atelier Abstração” artists at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo. Though the group, under the tutelage of Samson Flexor, adhered to principles of abstraction that have a “standardizing” effect, Zanini writes that individual approaches balance out “stylistic impersonality.” He highlights the work of Jacques Douchez, “the one who has established himself the fastest, the most mature in finding ‘quantitative and qualitative relationships.’” He describes the work of the Atelier Abstração as an “honest and responsible effort,” part of a universal movement toward analytical abstraction that, “despite the formidable delay,” has arrived in Brazil.
Samson Flexor (1907–71) began to study painting and music at age eleven in Romania, moving to Brussels and then Paris to continue his studies in 1922. Inspired by geometric abstraction in São Paulo, he moved his family to Brazil in 1948. A close friend of the French curator Léon Degand, who headed the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, his work was included in the new museum’s inaugural exhibition Do Figurativismo ao Abstracionismo. Two years later, Flexor founded the Atelier Abstração, a studio in his home that taught the principles of abstraction, held recitals and conferences, and served as a hub for artists and intellectuals. Famously, the test for entry was to draw a guitar with a ruler and square. Flexor’s early disciples at the Atelier Abstração included Izar do Amaral Berlinck, Zilda Andrews, Emílio Mallet, Leopoldo Raimo, Jacques Douchez, Maria Antonia Berlinck, Leyla Perrone-Moisés, Norberto Nicola, Wega Nery, Anésia Pacheco Chaves, and Alberto Teixeira [see in the ICAA digital archive by Denise Mattar “Entrevista com Alberto Teixeira” (doc. no. 1316985)]. The group show described in this article, held in July 1954 at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, was the second exhibition organized by Flexor and the Atelier Abstração.
Art critic, historian, and curator Walter Zanini (1925–2013) was the first director of the MAC-SP. From that post, which he held from 1963 to 1978, he encouraged the production of emerging artists and supported marginalized forms of artistic expression, from technological and conceptual approaches to multimedia works that made use of visual poetics. Zanini was also one of the curators of the first Bienal de São Paulo (1951) and a professor at the Escola de Comunicações e Artes da Universidade de São Paulo (ECA-USP). This article, which appeared in the Sunday supplement of the São Paulo newspaper O Tempo in 1954, was written while Zanini was still a student at the University of Paris. Besides Zanini’s commentary and a reproduction of the Atelier Abstração’s manifesto, it includes images of paintings by Flexor and Douchez, as well as a photograph of artist students at work in Flexor’s studio.
[For more on the Atelier Abstração, see the following articles in the ICAA digital archive: “Atelier Abstração” (doc. no. 1232253) and “Pintores do Atelier Abstração: exposição 16 de junho - 6 de julho” (doc. no. 1085247).
For more by Walter Zanini, see “[Letter] 1969” (doc. no. 1111055), “As novas possibilidades” (doc. no. 1110585), “Introdução” (doc. no. 1110588), “A colônia japonesa e as artes” (doc. no. 1111409), “Introduction” (doc. no. 1111291), and “Entrevista – depoimento” (doc. no. 1111244), among others].