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In the Preface to Building on a Construct, Adolpho Leirner writes on the experiences he has felt as an art collector. When contemplating his journey as a collector, he mentions the first work he acquired and the first exhibition where part of his collection was included. These pivotal moments, as well as a symposium that took place in 2007, held in conjunction with an exhibition of his entire collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, have impacted Leirner’s understanding and reception of the collection he worked so hard to assemble.

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In the opening of his preface, Adolpho Leirner (b. 1935) mentions the first work he purchased for his collection, a 1958 painting by Milton Dacosta titled Em Vermelho [In Red]. He says that he assembled “around sixty-five percent of [his] collection before 1972.” In 1977, examples of his collection were presented in the exhibition Projeto Construitico Brazileiro na Arte. Leirner discusses the book Projeto Construitivo no Brasil, which was a product of his work with curator Amaral Aracy, of the aforementioned exhibition. As a result of both projects, the contributors of the book and the exhibition joined Leirner for the 2007 symposium “Concretismo and Neoconretismo: Fifty Years Later,” held at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This symposium was held in conjunction with the full presentation of Leirner’s collection on view at the museum, which became its permanent home.

 

This essay is important for understanding the scope of Adolpho Leirner’s collection, in regards to its first exhibtion and the result of a symposium decades later. [See in ICAA digital archive, the texts: “Art and Design: Discovery and Attitude” by Alexandre Wollner (doc. no. 1324618), “A Curator/A Catalogue” by Aracy Amaral (doc. no. 1324585) and “Max Bill on the Map of Argentine-Brazilian Concrete Art” by Maria Amalia Garcia (doc. no. 1324602) regarding the publication Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art]

 

Adolpho Leirner (b. 1935), is the son of Polish Jewish immigrants who arrived in Brazil in the 1930’s. In 1953 he traveled to England to study textile engineering and design. He developed a passion for architecture and design but also acquainted himself with the legacy of the international Constructivist movements of the first half of the 20th century. He returned to Brazil in the late 1950’s with increased interest in Brazilian decorative arts and contemporary art. In 1961 he purchased the first work of his nearly 100 object collection. His concentrated efforts on Brazilian geometric and constructive abstraction led him to gather key works of these movements in his country. The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art is a critical component of the Latin American art initiative at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is represented by the Latin American Art Department and its research arm, the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA).

Researcher
Taylor Kubala; ICAA team
Team
International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
Credit
Adolpho Leirner © Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. 2010