Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Francisco Alambert writes on Mário Pedrosa’s approach to criticizing capitalism and search for the utopic new world made possible by Modernism. He suggests its “task was remodeling the senses, representation, and images, among others.” This type of revolutionary practice required that an individual be both a “critic of capitalism and the one who experiences that possible new world, to which, in his/her judgment, access was given only by the revolution already under way in the arts.” Alambert suggests that Concretism and Neo-Concretism were the turning point to navigating that utopia.

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    In this essay, Francisco Alambert proposes that there are two principles to consider when reflecting on the impact of Mário Pedrosa’s work on art criticism in Brazil. After referring to him as “one of the most important thinkers in modern art, at least in Brazil and Latin America,” he goes on to explain that Pedrosa was an active intellectual and “understood the idea of the revolution, of the reorganization of society on par with change in sensibility, and of the idea of experimentation and innovation with political meaning.” The second principle is “understanding the desire, based on the experience and needs of the periphery of capitalism (Brazil, Latin America), to build the plan of a New World, to create a “world civilization” as much on the “successes” of the leftist, bohemian bourgeoisie in revolt against its own class and culture (Modernism) as on popular culture without any exoticism.” Together these principles prompted Pedrosa to be an active defender of a revolutionary utopia, as well as a radical critic.

     

    Alambert says that Brazil was the kernel of Pedrosa’s concerns. He then goes on to explain the three processes in which the “utopia” of a New World would be threatened. He explains that Brazil reached a peak in development in the 1950’s, regarding development and influx of formative international ideas. Speaking on Pedrosa’s radical nature, Alambert includes that during the fifteen year dictatorship of Getúlio Vargas, Pedrosa was a militant politician and was exiled from his country in 1935 but later returned in 1945.

     

    Pedrosa produced a lot of writing from 1940-1950 where he “anticipated and radicalizes aspects of what is known as “art education”.” From here Alambert elaborates on his affinity to Marxism and Gestalt psychology and how these two ideas play a role in his beliefs and motivation to push the agenda of the New World. 

     

    This essay is important to the research of art criticism and its emergence during radical changes in Brazil. [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]

     

    Art crictic and Professor Francisco Alambert teaches at the Universidade de São Paulo and regularly publishes work in Brazilian academic journals and magazines. One of his most recent publications is Bienais de São Paulo: da era do Museu à era dos curadores (2004).  He is currently pursuing two book projects regarding Brazilian art critic Mário Pedrosa, one of which is a compilation of recent research on the author’s work and the other, a studying of the relationship between art and politics within Pedrosa’s work.