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.
Héctor Olea traces the artistic career of Waldemar Cordeiro, while establishing his relevancy in regards to the Concrete art movement in Brazil. He suggests that it was Cordeiro’s never-ending quest to explore “what is concrete,” that led him to considering “this critical conception of art, [as] a matter of knowledge instead of expression, [which] often occupied opposing ground.” Olea considers it important to understand Cordeirdo’s “raison d’être,” which he states in the beginning of the essay. He remarks that the purpose of this essay is to embrace both “the theoretician and the practitioner.”Olea provides a list of key items regarding Cordeiro’s artistic evolution.
In this essay, Héctor Olea explores an “innovative, flexible response to Cordeiro’s work.” He refers to Cordeiro as a “visual artist, art critic, theoretician, professor and landscape designer.” He insists these titles must be considered “within the same interdisciplinary field as his European counterparts, including Max Bill in Switzerland or the Czech Karel Teige and his Devetsil Group (Prague, 1921–1923).” Olea writes that Cordeiro extended beyond the Concrete art movement that went into the mid-1960’s, where he “formulated a new version of Pop art,” and then worked as a “harbinger of electronic art,” in the 1970’s.
Although Cordeiro’s art evolved and he participated within various movements beyond Concrete art, Oela suggests that he continued to grapple with the idea of the “concrete.” While “immersed in the digital language of the time,” in the 1970’s “Cordeiro was deeply committed to preserving what he still understood to be a renewed approach to Concretism.” His work continued to have parallels with earlier Concrete works, yet he identified himself with technological progress. He realized that the effort of renewal, which was at the core of Concrete art, “needed to be regauged as time went by.” Although there were visible ideas of this movement, Cordeiro believed that Concrete art was directed by “spiritual counsels,” known as the “invisible work.”
This essay is crucial when researching the work of Waldemar Cordeiro because it provides a close look at his prolific artistic career, as Olea thoughtfully traces the evolution of his works and theoretical practice. [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 “A Curator/A Catalogue” by Aracy Amaral (doc. no. 1324585) regarding the publication Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art]
Héctor Olea is the translations and publications editor for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), as well as an intellectual, independent scholar and curator specializing in Latin American modern art. He has organized, contributed to and edited numerous publications including but not limited to, Critical Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art: Resisting Categories (2012); Building on a Construct (2010); Inverted Utopias (2006) and Versions and Inversions (2006).