This is an analysis of the work of Antonio Henrique Amaral that relates it to everyday life, folk art, mass culture, and social reality. It was written by the celebrated Brazilian art critic and Neo-Concrete theorist Ferreira Gullar. In the early 1960s and after being at the core of the Neo-Concrete movement, the poet and critic [José Ribamar] Ferreira Gullar (1930–2016) became an extremely vocal critic of Brazil’s social problems when he joined the CPCs (Centros Populares de Cultura). The book Vanguarda e subdesenvolvimento: ensaios sobre arte [Avant-Garde and Underdevelopment: Essays on Art] was written between 1965 and 1969, in the aftermath of the military coup (1964–85) that had a devastating impact on life in Brazil. Under those circumstances, Gullar joined the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) at a time when Brazilian leftists began a process of reorientation and self-critical appraisal, setting the tone, in one way or another, for Ferreira Gullar’s written essays and especially his critical reviews on foreign avant-garde movements. [See in the ICAA digital archive a letter by Amaral to Ferreira Gullar, signed in New York on June 8, 1974 (1111048)].
Antonio Henrique Amaral (1935–2015), apart from being an artist, engraver, and draftsman, was the younger brother of the renowned art critic Aracy Amaral. His artistic career began in the fifties in the field of etching, engraving images of a fanciful nature and subsequently overlapping these with elements pertaining to popular graphics and mass culture. The artist travelled frequently throughout Latin America and ended up residing in the United States for a long time. At the end of the sixties (a defining moment in his artistic career), he developed a figurative style associated with photography and the photographic image itself, drawing up metaphors about the social conditions facing Brazil and especially the stifling conditions under the political military regime. He lived the entire decade of the seventies in New York.
The magazine Mirante das Artes was published in São Paulo between 1967 and 1968, during which twelve issues were published. The editor and publisher of the magazine was Pietro Maria Bardi, the director of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP). It was comprehensive in character, even democratic, under the political conditions the country was experiencing. It was a vehicle for Bardi’s ideas that were obviously opposed to the commercial art market that was being introduced at the time.