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In this letter, addressed to the collector Adolpho Leirner, Almir Mavignier responds to the publication of Aracy Amaral’s book Arte Construtiva no Brasil Coleção Adolpho Leirner, a copy of which Leirner had sent the artist. “Finally, Brazilian documentation of concrete art,” he writes. “Beautiful.”
“The emotion of receiving it compels me to contribute to your collection,” Mavignier continues, and he encloses a gift of his latest work, a serigraph made with the technical assistance of his son, titled Linhas e superficies konvex-konkavas. He also encloses a serigraph for Amaral, titled Estrutura em rotação, “whose intention in 1958 was to geometrizar Tachism and today is still to ‘sabotage’ geometric precision.” The artist confirms another work in Leirner’s collection and concludes with a recollection of the opening of the exhibition 9 artistas de engenho de dentro at the MAM-SP in 1949. “Since the biennial did not include electrical appliances, I had the idea of ??‘attracting’ critics and artists to a dark room during the vernissage.”
Born in Rio de Janeiro, Almir Mavignier (b. 1925), studied under the Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes, but, inspired by Mário Pedrosa’s essay “Da natureza afetiva da forma na obra de arte,” abandoned naturalism in favor of abstraction in 1949. Along with Ivan Serpa and Abraham Palatnik (whom he mentions in this letter), Mavignier formed a new group of abstract artists working in Rio de Janeiro. The group established links with Argentine concretism through Tomás Maldonado and his wife, Lidy Prati, and, through Geraldo de Barros, with the abstract artist working in São Paulo. Mavignier participated in the first São Paulo biennial in 1951, the year he had his first solo exhibition at the MAM-SP. Also that year, he attended classes at the Académie de La Grande Chaumière in Paris, arriving in Zurich the following year as Max Bill was forming his Hochschule für Gestaltung. In 1953, Mavignier joined the first class of the school in Ulm, studying under Josef Albers, Johannes Itten and Otl Aicher, among many others. After graduating, Mavignier established himself as a graphic designer in Ulm, where he maintained a professional workshop until 1971, when he moved to Hamburg. Though he often exhibited with Brazilian concrete artists, he remained in Hamburg throughout his career.
Aracy Amaral (b. 1930) is an art historian, critic, and curator who served as director of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo (1975–79) and of the MAC-USP (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, 1982–86). She is currently a professor of Art History FAU-USP. She is the author of many books about Brazilian art, including the text Mavignier refers to here, Arte Construtiva no Brasil Coleção Adolpho Leirner. That text accompanied an exhibition of the same name at MAM-SP, from October 2–December 20, 1998. In 2000, Amaral curated mavignier 75, a survey of Mavignier’s contributions to the importance of graphic arts in Concretism that included installations made with his son, Delmar, at the MAM-SP. This document belongs to the Adolpho Leirner Archives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, contributed by the collector himself.
[For related material, see the following documents in the ICAA digital archive: “Leirner, Adolpho, [Letter] to Almir Mavignier” (doc. no. 1317514); by Murilo Mendes “Almir Mavignier” (doc. no. 1090273); by José Gómez Sicre “Abraham Palatnik of Brazil, Kinetic Effects in Art” (doc. no. 1222582); by Flávio de Aquino “Flávio de Aquino: fala de Ulm” (doc. no. 1111182); and by Mário Pedrosa “Ivan Serpa expõe em Washington, E.U.A.” (doc. no. 1090373)].