Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    In this pocket-sized catalogue for an exhibition of recipients of the Leirner Prize for Contemporary Art in 1960, Gerardo Ferraz describes a transition in the work of Anatol Wladyslaw away from the “mathematics and geometry” of his earlier work and toward “musical abstraction.” Ferraz is surprised at how quickly the artist emerged from a “stammering, inarticulate” language and arrived at a kind of breakthrough, “unlocking a syntax of plastic vocabulary.” He uses the word “plenitude” to describe Wladyslaw’s images – “because it is through images that the artist speaks.” Wladyslaw is not only interested in the gesture or the materiality of the painting but in meaning, he concludes. “See and you will feel it.”

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    Anatol Wladyslaw (1913–2004) was born in Warsaw and arrived in São Paulo in 1930, where he trained as an engineer. Though he began studying painting with Lucy Citti Ferreira and Yolanda Mohaly in the late 1930s, the biography in this catalogue notes that he dedicated himself to art starting in 1946. He frequented Samson Flexor’s Atelier Abstração, a studio that taught the principles of abstraction, held recitals and conferences, and served as a hub for artists and intellectuals. He was a founder of the Grupo Ruptura, the group of Paulista concretists formed by Waldemar Cordeiro, Luiz Sacilotto, Kazmer Féjer, Lothar Charoux, Hermelindo Fiaminghi, and Mauricio Nogueira Lima. However, he refused to identify any school of thought with his work, and in 1958, the biography notes, he abandoned geometric abstraction, experimenting with tachism initially, and later with “informal” painting. Ferraz’s essay thus tracks this transitional moment, through what he described as Wladyslaw’s “incessant search” and arrival at his “sharp and incisive” current phase.

     

    Wladyslaw’s experimentation with lyrical and informal abstraction might suggest a reason for his exhibitions at the Galeria de Arte das Folhas. When a few years earlier, in 1957, art patrons of São Paulo felt that important figurative artists had been excluded from the Concrete-focused biennial, the industrialist Isaí Leirner (who, at the time, was director of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo) sponsored an alternative exhibition of 12 São Paulo-based artists. This initial exhibition, which became known as the Premio Leirner, was held in the lobby of the office building of the newspaper La Folha. Leirner eventually founded a space dedicated to this cause, known as the Galeria de Arte das Folhas, which operated from 1958–62 and hosted not only exhibitions but also debates and conferences that promoted a wider array of tendencies than those backed by the organizers of the São Paulo Bienal. Leirner and the other patrons who coalesced around the Galeria Folha often bought the exhibited art themselves and donated it to museums, thus driving the institutionalization of the showcased artists. In its four years of operation, the gallery exhibited many emerging talents, including Franz Weissmann, Regina Silveira, Maria Helena Andrés, Mário Silésio, Di Cavalcanti, Willys de Castro, and Hermelindo Fiaminghi.

     

    This catalogue also accompanied exhibitions of Italo Cencini, Mario Zanini, Edith Jiménez, and Antônio Henrique Amaral, fellow recipients of the Leirner Prize for Contemporary Art in 1960. It includes a photograph of the artist at work, essay, biography, and checklist of works shown.

     

    [For complementary reading, see the following documents in the ICAA digital archive: by José Geraldo Vieira “Anatol Wladyslaw” (doc. no. 1322921); by Geraldo Ferraz “Paulo Rissone” (doc. no. 1322939); by Lothar Charoux, Waldemar Cordeiro, Anatol Wladyslaw, et. al. “Ruptura” (doc. no. 771349); by Charoux, Cordeiro, de Barros, Féjer, Haar, Sacilotto, and Wladyslaw “Ruptura, Sao Paulo, 1952” (doc. no. 1232213); and by Ferreira Gullar “I - O Grupo de São Paulo: I Exposição Nacional de Arte Concreta” (doc. no. 1087166).

     

    For more on the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, see by Oswald de Andrade Filho “Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, 1960” (doc. no. 1232976), and “Murilo Penteado” (doc. no. 1309128); by Luis Martins “Samson Flexor” (doc. no. 1316704); by Wolfgang Pfeiffer “Moacyr Rocha” (doc. no. 1309168), and “Niobe Xandó” (doc. no. 1309188); and by Décio Pignatari “Raul Porto,” (doc. no. 1309108)].