Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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Synopsis

This text by British critic Guy Brett analyzes Latin American art movements of the fifties and sixties, specifically Kinetic art, Op art, and Concretism. Brett argues that those movements formulated a radical change on the level of theory and of practice while also affirming the artistic independence of works produced on the subcontinent in relation to those produced in North America and Europe, thus opposing a Eurocentric vision of art. Insofar as those movements entailed a novel reading of the art space, they did not follow the trends in fashion at the time. Indeed, on the basis of a “critical appropriation,” they engaged in a profound discussion of the legacy of the early 20th-century avant-gardes. Brett provides astute observations of the works of Lucio Fontana, Alejandro Otero, Jesús Soto, Carlos Cruz–Díez, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica, and Sérgio Camargo. He grasps the various spatial proposals that works by those artists entail as well as the implications of their aesthetic choices, especially in terms of the sociopolitical and economic issues facing Latin America.

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Synopsis

Análise dos movimentos da arte latino-americana dos anos 1950-1960, especialmente  do cinetismo, do concretismo e da arte ótica. O autor considera que essas correntes propuseram uma mudança radical na teoria e na prática da arte, bem como afirmaram a independência da produção do subcontinente com relação à arte européia ou norte-americana. Indo, todas elas, a procura de uma nova noção de espaço, não buscaram referência nas tendências em voga no período, mas realizaram a apropriação crítica e um aprofudamento das discussões das vanguardas do início do século XX. O texto analisa obras de Lucio Fontana, Alejandro Otero, Jesús Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica e Sergio Camargo, buscando compreender as diferentes propostas espaciais presentes nessas obras, bem como as implicações de suas escolhas estéticas em relação às questões sociais, políticas e econômicas da América Latina.

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Annotations

English art critic Guy Brett uses the image of a “radical leap” to examine from a critical and analytic perspective the change effected by those artists who, on the basis of the Constructivism of the fifties and sixties, shook up contemplative art, rendering it participatory and formulating novel ties between art and the space in which it operates. The experimental practices formulated in Latin America by Kinetic art and Op art in the sixties, and by Neo-Concretism in Brazil, subverted the “distanced” relationship between the viewer and the work prevalent until that time. Brett’s essay was featured in the catalogue to the show on Latin American art organized by Dawn Ades at the Hayward Gallery in London. It had considerable impact on reflections on the place of Latin American art in narratives of Western art.

 

London-based art critic, curator, and international lecturer Guy Brett (b. 1942) was the cofounder, with Paul Keeler, of the gallery Signals and of the publication Newsbulletin of Signals. He worked closely with Mira Schendel, holding a solo show of her work at Signals in 1966. Brett’s essays, which almost always have a radical or experimental bent, are published regularly in international art magazines; he has also written monographic essays. He did significant work on Kinetic art from the time of that movement’s emergence in Europe and, in particular, in Venezuela. His widely known books include Kinetic Art – The Language of Movement (London: Studio Vista, 1968); Force Fields – Phases of the Kinetic (London: Hayward Gallery, 2000); Carnival of Perception – Selected Writings on Art (London: Institute of International Visual Arts, 2004); and Brasil experimental - arte/vida: proposições e paradoxos (org. Kátia Maciel) (Rio de Janeiro: Contra Capa Livraria, 2005).

 

For a wider vision of Brett’s work on Brazilian art, see “Uma cronologia de encontros, 1964-2005” [doc. no. 1111303]. He has also written monographic works on Brazilian artists, such as a discussion of Mira Schendel’s radical formulations in “Ativamente o vazio” [doc. no. 1111214] and “Schendel” [doc. no. 1111213]; and of the innovations formulated by Lygia Clark in “Lygia Clark: In Search of the Body” [doc. no. 1232526]. Finally, for his thoughts on the work produced in the seventies in Brazil, as gathered by critic Márcio Doctors, see “Guy Brett: arte brasileira sem folclore” [doc. no. 1110958].  

Leia este comentário crítico em português
Annotations

O crítico de arte inglês Guy Brett utiliza-se da imagem de salto radical para analisar a mudança operada na obra de diversos artistas que, a partir de influências do construtivismo, na década de 1950 e 1960, transformam a arte contemplativa em participativa, propondo novas relações da arte com o espaço. As práticas experimentais propostas a partir dos anos 1960 pelo cinetismo, a arte ótica latino-americana e o neoconcretismo brasileiro subvertem a relação distanciada imposta pela produção artística até então, para propor nova dimensão da relação estética. O texto faz parte do catálogo da exposição organizada por Dawn Ades na Hayward Gallery, Londres, sobre arte latino-americana. O ensaio de Brett teve um impacto significativo sobre as reflexões a respeito da inserção da arte latino-americana nas narrativas da arte ocidental.

a- Contribuições no âmbito de grandes exposições internacionais

a- Interpretações da produção artística

Revert to English annotations
Researcher
Equipe Brasil: José Augusto Ribeiro, Fernanda Pitta
Team
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Credit
REproduced with permission of Guy Brett, London, UK
Location
Acervo Projeto "Arte no Brasil: textos críticos do séc. XX"