Sir Herbert Edward Read (1893–1968) is an anarchist English poet; he is also a modern art historian and art critic, and is best known for his prolific production of art books. In 1936, Read organized the London International Surrealist Exhibition. He was also the editor of Surrealism, the book that was published that same year, which included works by the French poets André Breton and Paul Éluard and the British critics Hugh Sykes Davies and Georges Hugnet.
This document reflects the interest expressed by the Brazilian artist Flavio de Cárvalho (1899–1973) in Surrealism, Futurism, and modernism. It is one of the testimonies he collected during his trip to Europe in 1934, when he interviewed famous people who were involved with these movements, such as Man Ray, Tristan Tzara (“A nova forma poética: uma conversa com Tristan Tzara,” 1110387), Herbert Read, Roger Callois (“Ciência e lirismo,” 1110390), and Tommaso Filippo Marinetti. The following year, de Carvalho published the results of his project in the São Paulo newspaper, Diário de S. Paulo.
In a predominantly figurative and nationalist milieu, Flávio de Carvalho (1899–1973) is one of the few Brazilian artists to express certain affinities with Dadaism and Surrealism. In addition to being a painter, he was also prone to provocative acts, such as his 1930 Experiência n.2, when he put on a broad-brimmed hat and paraded against the flow of a Catholic procession in downtown São Paulo. By destabilizing the social and moral status quo, he hoped to provoke situations that created emotional tension and social instability in order to study the resulting psychological reactions and the behavior of the masses when faced with a crisis. His interview with Herbert Read highlights de Carvalho’s interest in the relationship between art and psychology and in primitive art. These interests are part of his obsessive desire to combat Brazilian cultural provincialism.
Over the course of his intellectual career, Flávio de Carvalho focused on the expression of (principally Freudian) psychological ideas in a variety of media, including the visual arts, the theater, and architecture. He scandalized the audience when he presented his urban planning thesis “Uma tese curiosa: a cidade do homem nu” (783858), at the IV Congresso Panamericano de Arquitetos in Rio de Janeiro in 1930. For several references made by de Carvalho to a key text for a number of writers from that period, which was also an essential source for his naked man thesis, see the 1928 “Manifesto antropófago” (771303). There is another very similar essay, also by de Carvalho; see “A única arte que presta é a arte anormal” (1084943).