The son of Polish Jewish immigrants who arrived in Brazil in the 1930s, Adolpho Leirner was born in 1935 in São Paulo. In 1953 he went to England to study textile engineering and design. During his four-year stay, he became acquainted with the legacy of the international Constructivist movements of the first half of the 20th century. At the same time, he developed a passion for architecture and design. Over a period of 50 years, Leirner assembled an incomparable collection of Brazilian Constructive art, driven by both a passion for art as well as a sense of social responsibility. In a well-publicized statement about the meaning and purpose of collecting taken from his book, Constructive Art in Brazil: The Adolpho Leirner Collection, he describes his motto: “To collect is to nurture a love affair, a passion; it is to uncover findings in a game of search and find, all of which are part of my life.” At the same time, he underscores the ethical responsibility that comes with collecting: “Collectors understand they gather their collections not only for private fruition but for the benefit of society, and for this reason they keep and preserve them.”
Read below to learn about key moments in the history of the Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.