Victor Brecheret (São Paulo, 1894 - idem, 1955). Sculptor. Began his artistic training in 1912, studying drawing, modelling and wood carving at the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios de São Paulo - Laosp [School of Arts and Crafts of São Paulo]. From 1913 to 1919, he studied in Rome, where he was a pupil of the sculptor, Arturo Dazzi (1881-1966). He returned to São Paulo and established a studio in the Palácio das Indústrias, in a room granted by Ramos de Azevedo (1851-1928). He was discovered by the modernists, Di Cavalcanti (1897-1976), Hélios Seelinger (1878-1965), Menotti Del Picchia (1892-1988), Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) and Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954), who began to promote his work. In 1921, with a scholarship from the Pensionato Artístico do Estado de São Paulo [São Paulo Artists' Scholarship Fund], he went to Paris, where he came into contact with the sculptors, Henry Moore (1898-1986), Emile Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) and Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957). He spent alternate periods in France and Brazil until 1936. Between 1921 and 1929, he exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français - Section de Sculpture et Gravure sur Pierre and the Salon des Indépendents. Despite his absence from Brazil, he contributed 12 sculptures to Semana de Arte Moderna [Modern Art Week] of 1922. In 1932, he became a founding partner of the Sociedade Pró-Arte Moderna (Spam)[Pro-Modern Art Society]. In 1936, he began to execute the Monumento às Bandeiras, whose outline design dates from 1920, and which was inaugurated in 1953 in the Praça Armando Salles de Oliveira, in São Paulo. During the 1940s and 50s, he realised sculptures for public places, façades and bas reliefs. During this period, the highpoint of the artist's career, he portrayed the figures and customs of indigenous Brazilian culture in terracotta, bronze and stone with incisions.
Brecheret began his artistic training in 1912, at the Liceu de Artes e Ofícios in São Paulo, where he studied drawing, modelling and woodcarving. In 1913, he travelled to Rome to become a pupil of Arturo Dazzi, a sculptor distinguished by his taste for monumental figures, elaborated with a high degree of formal synthesis. In Rome, he studied closely the works of Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) and Emile Antoine Bourdelle, also meeting the sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic (1883-1962). By the time he returned to São Paulo, in 1919, he had become a sculptor with a full command of technique. He devised a studio in a space ceded by the engineer, Ramos de Azevedo, in the Palácio das Indústrias, winning admiration for his work from a group of intellectuals linked to the modernist movement: Oswald de Andrade, Menotti Del Pichia and Mário de Andrade.
The sculptures Ídolo and Eva (both dating from 1919) give a naturalist treatment of anatomy and have a contained dramaticism, expressed through the torsions of the body and through volumes worked with an accentuated chiaroscuro. The writer and critic, Mário de Andrade, called this period of Brecheret's work (by contrast with his later period in Paris) his 'shadow phase', in which these shadows are always given greater value than light. In 1920, he made the model for the Monumento às Bandeiras, in which he evoked the saga of the Bandeirantes [pioneers who conquered new lands in the interior of Brazil]. In the following year, he received a scholarship from the Pensionato Artístico do Estado de São Paulo and left for Paris, where he remained until 1935. While absent, some of his works were shown at Semana de Arte Moderna in 1922.
In Paris, Brecheret was highly sensitive to three sources that he sought to blend in a personal way: the emphasis on geometric volume of cubist sculpture, the synthetic treatment of form of the Romanian sculptor, Constantin Brancusi and the elegant stylisation of Art Deco. The convergence of these sources may be perceived in Tocadora de Guitarra (1923). During this phase, the sculptor reduced the dramatic character seen in his previous work, now producing simplified forms with a highly ornamental character. The sculpture, Mise au Tombeau, of 1923, which is today in the Consolação cemetery in São Paulo, is one of the most notable works of his French period, being organised into linear forms and possessing a melodic softness. The theme is treated with a high degree of formal simplification, evoking an atmosphere of great serenity.
In 1936, Victor Brecheret settled in São Paulo, where he received commissions for public sculptures, as well as for works with religious themes. He also resumed the Monumento às Bandeiras project, which was not finished until 1953. The work distinguishes itself by the figures that are elaborated with a high degree of formal synthesis, its concern with volumes, its simplification of details and stylised lines. The monument succeeds in summarising the narrative and allegorical appeal of the subject. In the composition, there is a convergence of a strongly horizontal emphasis and a dragging movement that culminates in the figure of Glory, which heroically bundles together the entire sculptural group. The treatment of the surface is rougher than in previous works, with the sculptor giving greater emphasis to the material.
From the 1940s onwards, the artist moved closer to themes linked to indigenous culture, in sculptures realised in bronze or terracotta, such as Drama Marajoara (1951) or Drama Amazônico (1955). During this phase, in which he reached the pinnacle of his career, he also worked with stones in circular forms, in which he interferes with smooth incisions, as in the work, Luta da Onça or Índia e o Peixe (both of which date from 1947-1948). In these works, he evokes the sacred or magic character of stone, resuming indigenous forms and archetypes in a highly personal way, even if we may note in the works the presence of sculptures by Henry Moore and Hans Arp (1886-1966). In works such as the Luta dos Índios Kalapalos (1951), Brecheret produces forms in which he carries on a dialogue with abstraction. In Índio e Suassuapara (1951), the artist starts from two volumes that stick together, working on empty or full surfaces in which he makes incisions.