Frans Krajcberg (1921–2017), a Polish artist living in Brazil, began his work as an artist in the 1940s, moving through Expressionism and Abstract Art. But it was the works he created in the 1960s that stood out, marked by his involvement with nature and his defense of ecological causes. Art historians, including Vera Pedrosa, took an interest in the work he produced and his thinking starting in the 1970s.
Consider the irony entailed in the idea of “natureza morta” (“still life,” literally: “dead nature”) regarding the “deforestation” of the Amazon region criticized by Krajcberg in his sculptures. These were painted with material recovered from the slash-and-burn land clearance carried out in that vast region starting in the early 1970s with the opening of the Trans-Amazonian Highway and the related concession of areas for agriculture and livestock. The theme is apparent in the “Manifesto do Naturalismo Integral ou Manifesto do Rio Negro” (1978) [1111358 and 805796], signed by Krajcberg along with the French critic Pierre Restany and the Yugoslav artist and entrepreneur Sepp Baendereck. The manifesto is a rallying call in defense of art that is “naturalistic, essentialist and fundamental.” It yearns for a return from thinking and perception to a condition of “original nature,” represented in this text by Rio Negro. Understood from that ecological perspective of earlier decades, to Krajcberg, metropolitan art could only be “natureza morta.”