Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Héctor Olea writes about Ferreira Gullar’s under-recognized “outstanding role not as a theoretician but as a young journalist and patron of theory.” He says that “this pivotal issue deserves special attention in order to circumvent historical platitudes, the worst enemies of truth.” Olea covers specific documents edited by Gullar for the Sunday Supplement or the Jornal do Brasil, also referred to as SDJB, during the second half of the 1950’s, “in which he prepared his theoretical ground on the avant-garde.”

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    In this essay, Héctor Olea writes about an interview he conducted with Ferreira Gullar in 2005. He says that Gullar was seized by the “here and now of political opportunism; he was trenchant regarding both formalist Concretismo and institutionalized Neoconcretismo; embittered by his self-imposed exile; and erratic about his “hand-to-hand combat” with poetry, which ran the gamut from the experimental to the committed.” Olea recounts Gullar’s initial collaborations with the Jornal do Brasil (SDJB) in 1955-56, with occasional text on the visual arts.

     

    Olea then traces the transformations of SDJB in the following years, which consisted of a new graphic layout implemented by sculptor Amilcar de Castro and Carlos Lemos. From 1959-1960, the journal produced a series titles Etapas da pintura contemporânea [Stages of Contemporary Painting], organized by Gullar. Four decades later, Gullar established the two key purposes of the series which were “to make a didactic make on the visual arts pages of the supplement” and “to carry out Neo-Concrete perspective a sort of new reading of those artistic movements like Constructivism.” The SDJB had a critical impact on the Concrete art movement because the visual arts section, headed by Gullar, dedicated entire issues to art movements and avant-garde ideas that influenced the broader scope of Concrete art in Brazil, as well as covered many seminal texts and works by critics and artists.

     

    Because Gullar is responsible for many influential texts regarding Concrete art in Brazil, this essay provides a historical time-line of his contributions to the field. [See in ICAA digital archive, the texts: “The Key Role of Criticism in the Experimental and Avant-Garde Trends: Mário Pedrosa” by Francisco Alambert (doc. no. 1324651), “Brazilian Concretismo” by Nicolau Sevcenko (doc. no. 1324569) 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].

     

    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).