The Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna was presented for the first time in 1952 in the wake of the División Moderna (Modern Division) at the Salão Nacional de Belas Artes. The third edition, which came to be known as the Salão Preto e Branco (Black-and-White Salon), opened on May 15, 1954. Participating artists protested against the poor quality of available art materials (mainly substitutes for imported products) due to import restrictions imposed by the Brazilian government. Led by Iberê Camargo, Milton Dacosta, and Djanira, six hundred artists from all over the country signed a manifesto addressed to the Ministério da Educação e Saúde (MES), the Ministry of Education and Health in the Getúlio Vargas administration, objecting to any restrictions on the import of paint, items used for printmaking and sculpture, paper, and other basic materials (see, in the ICAA digital archive: 1307648). According to the organizer of these testimonials, Glória Ferreira, the decision to show nothing but black-and-white works of art was productive because it prompted some of the participating artists to stop “copying the natural object” and try their hand at abstraction.
The book A Arte e seus materiais: Salão Preto e Branco, 3º Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna, 1954 (Art and its Materials: Black and White Salon, Third National Modern Art Salon, 1954), published on the occasion of the 1985 exhibition at the Galería Especial del Salão Nacional de Artes Plásticas, includes a set of “Testimonios” (testimonials) by participating artists and critics. According to the book, the situation recalled the famous Black-and-White Salon of 1954 in which works by Camargo, Aluísio Carvão, Anna Letycia, Aldo Bonadei, Ivan Serpa, Lygia Clark, Maria Helena Andrés, Maria Leontina, Tarsila do Amaral, Ubi Bava, and many others were shown. The publication includes primary and secondary sources that refer to the 1954 exhibition, as well as interviews with contemporary artists and critics.
[For complementary reading on the subject of the Salão Preto e Branco (Black-and-White Salon), see: “Memorial dos artistas ao Ministro da Educação e Cultura” (1307648); “Mensagem do Ministro da Educação e Cultura ao artistas” (1307663); “Entrevista com Djanira no programa clube da crítica” by Pascoal Longo (1307678); “Depoimentos: Ferreira Gullar” (1307732) and “Depoimentos: Aluísio Carvão” (1307694) by Glória Ferreira and Luiza Interlenghi; “A greve das cores” by Glória Ferreira (1307631); “O Salão Preto e Branco” by Paulo Herkenhoff (1307599); the five following testimonials conducted by Luiza Interlenghi, “Depoimentos: Décio Vieira” (1307712); “Depoimentos: Ione Saldanha” (1307774); “Depoimentos: José Silveira D’Ávila” (1307791); “Depoimentos: Ubi Bava” (1307851); and “Depoimentos: Iberê Camargo” by Evelyn Yoschpe (1307754).]