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, Alexandre Wollner recounts his journey to becoming an artist and traces 50 years of his work. He mentions trying various art schools but never quite fitting within their programs. The Museu de Arte São Paulo became an important refuge for Wollner, as he pursed being a draftsmen by day when he dreamed of becoming an artist. He would find himself questioning the relation of works in exhibitions and then hanging out at the Insitituo de Arte Contemporânea, where he would draw all day, while unemployed. Pietro Maria Bardi, the director of the Museu de Arte, asked Wollner to help him mount an exhibition. This exhibition was the Max Bill exhibition of 1951, which proved to be a great revelation to Wollner.
Graphic designer and artist Alexandre Wollner (1929–2018) traces the history of his artistic career, from its humble beginnings. He was a skilled draftsmen whose only interest was really in drawing, as he had no desire to pursue architecture, against his mother’s wishes. He discusses the importance of the Museu de Arte São Paulo, as well as the first exhibition he was invited to mount in 1951. The Max Bill exhibition gave Wollner the inspiration he needed to pursue his dream. He saw that Swiss artist Max Bill was not a painter or a sculptor, but that his “projects [were] based on his in-depth knowledge of drawing, design, culture, and technology.”
Upon recommendation, Wollner was nominated to join the School of Ulm, per Bill’s invitation. He references artist and his professors with whom he worked. He and his colleagues produced works, in the form of posters, for the Concrete art movement. He then states the importance of the São Paulo Biennial and the many that followed, which he says “without a doubt… caused a revolution – akin to a culture somersault – in Brazil.” Wollner believes this revolution was possible because it exposed a cultural front to a county that was once “ignorant of artistic movements and the like in Europe,” because of Word War II.
Wollner, then, examines his time at Ulm and focuses on works he produced during his studies there and after his return to Brazil. He says that he “adopted Concrete language as part of [his] design vocabulary.” Illustrated throughout his essay, are graphic works, campaigns and posters, which stand as an example of Concrete art in the form of design.
This essay provides helpful insight from one of the Brazilian artists who was actively participating in the Concrete art movement from the reigns of the School of Ulm and influence of Max Bill. [See in ICAA digital archive, the texts: “Max Bill on the Map of Argentine-Brazilian Concrete Art” by Maria Amalia Garcia (doc. no. 1324602), “Brazilian Concretismo” by Nicolau Sevcenko (doc. no. 1324569) and “Waldemar Cordeiro: From Visible Ideas to the Invisible Work” by Héctor Olea (doc. no. 1324634) regarding the publication Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art]
Alexandre Wollner was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1929. He began artistic training at the Instituto de Arte Contemporãnea in 1950. Per the invitation of Max Bill, he joined Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm, Germany, also known as the school of Ulm, from 1954-1958. He participated in the grupo ruptura in 1952 along with Geraldo de Barros, Waldemar Cordeiro, Lothar Charoux, and many others. When he returned to Brazil, he established the first design office with partners Geraldo de Barros, Ruben Martins, and Walter Macedo. In 1963, he co-founded the first school of design in Brazil, the Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial. Wollner has been an active member and producer in the design community since 1960 and continues to teach, lecture, hold workshops and participate in conferences around the world.