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  Nova Objetividade Brasileira [New Brazilian Objectivity]        

Held at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM/RJ) [Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro], in April 1967 and organised by a group of artists and art critics, the Nova Objetividade Brasileira [New Brazilian Objectivity] show brought together different movements within the national avant-gardes: concrete art, neoconcretism, new figurations, around the idea of the "new objectivity". The notion began to be defined by Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) at the event Propostas 66 [Proposals 66], held at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (Faap) [Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation] in São Paulo, which sought to examine the situation of art within Brazil. In the debates, in which Mário Pedrosa (1900-1981), Mário Barata (1921- ), Aracy Amaral (1930- ), Mário Schenberg (1914-1990), Otávio Ianni, Vilanova Artigas (1915-1985), Flávio Império (1935-1985), and others took part, Oiticica argued that it was the term "new objectivity" that most faithfully translated the experiences of the Brazilian avant-gardes in general and his in particular, noting that: "My entire evolution from 1959 until the present day has been in search of what I have recently come to call a new objectivity, and I believe that this is the specific tendency of the current Brazilian avant-garde [...]".
For Hélio Oiticica there was a tendency to go beyond traditional media (painting, sculpture, etc.), by making use of environmental structures and objects.

The creation of objects of various types, as well as the arguing for specifically Brazilian solutions, which were not copies of what was produced in international centres, defined the central spirit of the show, which was a kind of summary of the different paths taken by national art. A taking of political positions, a transcendence of the easel painting, the bodily, tactile and visual participation of the spectator, these were the basic ingredients of the new objectivity, which did not aim at becoming an artistic movement, in the terms of Hélio Oiticica. "The new objectivity", he said, "being a state is thus not a dogmatic aestheticist movement, (as for example was Cubism as well as other isms constituted as units of thought), but an 'arrival' consisting of multiple tendencies, where the lack of a 'unity of thought' is an important characteristic [...]". In other words, the exhibition did not intend to constitute an artistic group but to be the confluence of different trends.

The exhibition was accompanied by the text A Declaração de Princípios Básicos da Nova Vanguarda [Declaration of Basic Principles of the New Avant-Garde]. Signed by Hélio Oiticica, Antonio Dias (1944- ), Carlos Vergara (1941), Rubens Gerchman (1942 - 2008), Lygia Pape (1927-2004), Glauco Rodrigues (1929-2004), Carlos Zilio (1944- ), Mário Pedrosa (1900-1981), Maurício Nogueira Lima (1930-1999), and others, it defended freedom of creation, the use of a new language, the critical analysis of reality and the "use of means capable of reducing subjectivism to the maximum of objectivity". It was a question of giving a privileged position to the object, in accordance with the thinking of Hélio Oiticica, in rejecting the fantastic and neo-Surrealist tendencies of the new figurations which predominated in exhibitions such as Opinião 65 [Opinion 65]. Nova Objetividade Brasileira was organised into two modules: a first directed towards a retrospective of the object in Brazilian art, accentuating the "constructivist vocation" of our artistic productions; and a second on current manifestations. Artists who had emerged from Concretism and Neoconcretism, as well as the exponents of the new figurations and new realisms, gathered at the event. In addition to the signatories to the text, Sérgio Ferro (1938- ), Waldemar Cordeiro (1925-1973), Flávio Império, Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998), Nelson Leirner (1932- ), Marcello Nitsche (1942- ), Mona Gorovitz (1937- ), Alberto Aliberti (1935-19?), Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), Sonia von Brüsky (1941- ) and others took part in the event. These figures called attention to the set of experience with clear anti-art connotations, such as the Caixa de Baratas [Box of Cockroaches] (1967) by Lygia Pape; the "objetos relacionais" [relational objects], and "máscaras sensoriais" [sensory masks] by Lygia Clark (1920-1988); O Eu e o Tu - Roupa-Corpo-Roupa [The I and the you - clothes-body-clothes] and Tropicália (1967), by Hélio Oiticica.

Tropicália may be described as a labyrinthine environment composed of two Penetráveis [Penetrables], PN2 (1966) - Pureza é um mito [Purity is a myth] and PN3 (1966-1967) - Imagetic, associated with plants, sand, parrots, poem-objects, Parangolé cloaks and a television set. The tropical images, whence the title, are evident: sand, parrots, plants. An environment which "noisily presents images", according to its creator, which invades all the senses (vision, touch, hearing, smell) and invites to the game and to play. The use of signs and images conventionally associated with Brazil was not intended to figure a given national reality, but to make a Brazilian image objective by "devouring" symbols of Brazilian culture. The idea of "devouring", by no means a casual one, referred directly to the resumption of Antropophagy and Modernism in the version of Oswald de Andrade, from which Hélio Oiticica's work benefited. With the Parangolés, exhibited at Opinião 65 [Opinion 65], Hélio Oiticica took the decisive step which took art towards life and the environment. It was at this point that he discovered the samba, Mangueira (the samba school of which he became a passista ) and the particular architecture of the favelas to which Tropicália referred. The "environmental anti-art" inaugurated there appears to be theoretically systematised in the text written by the artist, Esquema Geral da Nova Objetividade Brasileira [General Scheme of the New Brazilian Objectivity], carrying on a dialogue both with the postulates of the Brazilian avant-gardes and with the various references of international art, such as Arte Povera, Conceptual Art, Dadaist and Constructivist proposals.

A "constructive will" fed the proposals present in the New Brazilian Objectivity, which allowed the recognition of the concrete basis of the formulations of the new avant-gardes that benefited from the previous output of Hélio Oiticica, of objectual art, of Franz Weissmann (1911-2005) and Aluísio Carvão (1920-2001), as well as the work of Waldemar Cordeiro after 1964 (which he termed "semantic concrete art" and "popcrete" art). The show and the texts which accompanied it may be read as the developments of other events that occurred during the 1960s, such as the exhibitions Opinião 65 [Opinion 65] and Opinião 66 [Opinion 66] (Rio de Janeiro), Propostas 65 [Proposals 65] and Propostas 66 [proposals 66] (São Paulo), Vanguarda Brasileira [Brazilian Avant-Garde] (Belo Horizonte, 1966) and the happening PARE [STOP!], commanded by Mário Pedrosa at the G-4 Gallery.

Updated on 19/08/2010