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 short essay, artist Clélia Cotrim Alves describes her process for making sculptures that are based in three principles: space, movement, and abstraction. Conceptualizing space, she writes, “I play with two intentions: emptiness and time.” Movement emerges in the “interrelationship” between horizontal and vertical planes. And form, “elaborated as an idea, is purely abstract. If there is a relationship with an object, it is processed intuitively.” Arriving at form “in a more or less conscious way,” Cotrim Alves sometimes identifies her work after it is finished, in a kind of “baptism”; “other times, the titles are mere indication.” She aims to capture the elusive “forces that surround us, in a metaphysical sense,” bringing together “matter and spirit.”
The little-known sculptor Clélia Cotrim Alves (b. 1921), was based in São Paulo. She participated in the landmark Salão Paulista de Arte Moderna in 1958 and 1960, the Salão de Arte Contemporânea de Santo André in 1969, and the Salão de Artes Plásticas da Noroeste in 1978. She contributed two bronze works to the V Bienal Internacional de São Paulo in 1959 and, also that year, won the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, for which this exhibition was held. In later decades she participated in several group exhibitions, including Mulher às Artes Plásticas no País (1960), Panorama de Arte Atual Brasileira (1972, 1975, and 1978), and Escultura Brasileira no Espaço Urbano: 50 anos (1978).
This essay was published in the pocket-sized catalogue for an exhibition of Clélia Cotrim Alves, Renina Katz, Francisco Brennand, and Leopoldo Raimo, all recipients of the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, at the Galeria de Arte das Folhas in October 1959. The São Paulo gallery was founded when, two years earlier, art patrons of São Paulo felt that important figurative artists had been excluded from the Concrete-focused São Paulo biennial. The industrialist Isaí Leirner (who, at the time, was director of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo) sponsored an alternative exhibition of 12 São Paulo-based artists. This initial exhibition, which became known as the Premio Leirner, was held in the lobby of the office building of the newspaper La Folha. Leirner eventually founded a space dedicated to this cause, known as the Galeria de Arte das Folhas, which operated from 1958–62 and hosted not only exhibitions but also debates and conferences that promoted a wider array of tendencies than those backed by the organizers of the São Paulo Bienal. Leirner and the other patrons who coalesced around the Galeria Folha often bought the exhibited art themselves and donated it to museums, thus driving the institutionalization of the showcased artists. In its four years of operation, the gallery exhibited many emerging talents, including Franz Weissmann, Regina Silveira, Maria Helena Andrés, Mário Silésio, Di Cavalcanti, Willys de Castro, and Hermelindo Fiaminghi. This document also includes an essay on Cotrim Alves by the critic Clarivaldo Valladares [see in the ICAA digital archive “Clélia Cotrim Alves” (doc. no. 1317124)].
[For the rest of the catalogue, see the following articles in the archive: by Wolfgang Pfeiffer et. al. “Leopoldo Raimo” (doc. no. 1316907); by Cláudio Abramo “Renina Katz” (doc. no. 1317183); and by Ariano Suassano “Francisco Brennand” (doc. no. 1317203).
For complementary reading on the Galeria de Arte das Folhas, see by Oswald de Andrade Filho “Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, 1960” (doc. no. 1232976), and “Murilo Penteado” (doc. no. 1309128); by Luis Martins “Samson Flexor” (doc. no. 1316704); by Geraldo Ferraz “Paulo Rissone” (doc. no. 1322939); by Wolfgang Pfeiffer “Moacyr Rocha” (doc. no. 1309168), and “Niobe Xandó” (doc. no. 1309188); and by Décio Pignatari “Raul Porto” (doc. no. 1309108)].