The exhibition Ways of Seeing Brazil: Itaú Cultural celebrates 30, which opens for guests on May 24th and runs from May 25th to August 13th, occupies the entire 10,000 meters plus area of the Oca, one of São Paulo’s architectural symbols, part of the Ibirapuera Park installations designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, Thais Rivitti and Leno Veras and organized in collaboration with the Itaú Cultural teams and Álvaro Razuk’s design, the exhibition presents to the public more than 750 works – 48 of them recently acquired – belonging to the Itaú Unibanco Art Collection.
In 1969, entrepreneur Olavo Egydio Setubal purchased Povoado numa Planície Arborizada by Dutch painter Frans Post, the first work in a collection that now contains around 15,000 items, maintained and managed by Itaú Cultural. All works were acquired using the institute’s own funds. Complemented by the institute’s collections of Computer Art and Artist Films and Videos, the overall collection is considered one of the largest corporate collections in the world and the largest in Latin America. Some years later, in 1987, Setubal laid the cornerstone of the project by creating the Galerias Itaú, which would eventually become the Itaú Cultural, one of the most important cultural institutes active in Brazil, with nationwide reach, respecting and giving visibility to the diversity of cultural expressions throughout the country.
To exhibit this history that reflects the history of Brazil itself, the curators chose to present a constellation of 20 sections for the public to follow, making their own connections and discovering lines of continuity and rupture between them. The works occupy all four floors of the Oca with the intent of establishing an expanded reading of the collection. Without following a chronological sequence and instead creating connections and diversified points of communication between the works, visitors are led to make their own esthetic, linguistic, conceptual and political discoveries and create new ways of seeing Brazilian art.
The exhibition also intends to highlight the series of activities undertaken by the institute in the past 30 years: the creation of a collection, the recording of cultural assets, their preservation and the study and dissemination of culture through publications and the holding of debates, exhibitions and an extensive programing. These go beyond the exhibition itself, with productions of works selected by the Rumos program, one of the main calls for art and cultural projects in the country; the encyclopedia, which gave origin to the institute and is nowadays the largest online compendium of art and culture; and the institute’s activities covering the most diverse areas of artistic and cultural expression in Brazil.
A few of the works
Among the almost 800 works that can be seen in the exhibition, the oldest chronologically are two maps, Jodocus Hondius: AmericaSeptentrionalis, from 1613, and Henricus Hondius: Accuratissima Brasiliae Tabula, from 1630, and six rare books, Sebastiano Beretario: Iosephi Anchietatae Societatis Iesu Sacerdotis In Brasilia Defuncti Vita, from 1617, Nicolaus Orlandini: Historiae Societatis Iesv, from 1620, George de Spilbergen: Miroir Oost & West-Indical Auquel sont defcriptes les deux dernieres Navigations, from 1621, Sebastiano Beretario: Vita del Padre Gioseffo Anchieta, from 1621, Guilhermo Piso, Georg Marcgraf: Indiae Utriusque, from 1648, and Simão de Vasconcellos: Chronica da Companhia de Jesus do Estado do Brasil, 1663. All of them are part of the Brasiliana Collection of the Itaú Unibanco Art Collection.
There are also works by Brazilian painter Candido Portinari, considered one of the most important Brazilian artists of the 20th century, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, the sculptor Maria Martins, Hélio Oiticica, the Italian-Brazilian sculptor Victor Brecheret and Lygia Clark. Among the non-Brazilian modernists is French painter Fernand Léger.
As a gift to the city, the exhibition organizers carried out the reconstruction of the untitled 5.35 meter-tall vertical sculpture by Ascânio MMM. The work was commissioned in the 1970s, when Olavo Setubal was mayor of São Paulo. When the Sé subway station was completed, he created a sculpture garden next to it to be the home for 15 sculptures by renowned artists such as Sergio Camargo, Rubem Valentim, Felícia Leirner, as well as Ascânio. In 1989, the work was removed for restoration by the city government, but it was deemed beyond repair and was not returned to its place (read more here, Ascânio's work).
Ways of Seeing Brazil: Itaú Cultural celebrates 30 also includes important works by contemporary artists, such as Adriana Varejão, Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muniz, Berna Reale, Jaime Lauriano, Ayrson Heráclito and Eder Oliveira. The latter are among the institute’s most recent acquisitions, such as Bandeira Nacional # 10, Novus Brasilia Typus: invasão, etnocídio, democracia racial e apropriação cultural and Artefatos # (1, 2 and 3), by Lauriano, all from 2016; four works from the series Cabeças Bori, by Heráclito, and two untitled works from 2015 by Eder Oliveira.
According to the curators, the specific architecture of the Oca building, with its characteristic hemispherical shape, creates a fluid space, with no sharp edges, allowing for the different sections of the exhibition created from the collection to be experienced side by side on equal terms. The spiral course that the building offers visitors recalls a journey where there is no set point of arrival, but a relation of continuity among the themes presented.
São Paulo greets visitors on the ground floor. Photos and works about the city, since its foundation up to works produced in 2017, suggest a new understanding of the state’s capital and its surroundings, in the sections Sculptures, History, Landscapes, Urbanity, Urbanism, Modernisms, Concretists. Themes merge together, such as its origins as a village, the building of the state’s hinterlands, with works by Benedito Calixto, or paintings about the age of coffee by Cândido Portinari, and, more recently, works by Caio Reisewitz, for example.
The floor is dedicated to modernity, concretism, neo-concretism, contemporary life – past, present and signs of the future. To this end, the perspectives of artists such as Militão, Joaquim Pedro and Mario de Andrade are juxtaposed together, along with Alfredo Volpi’s general landscapes, Almeida Junior’s characters, Calixto’s natures, and, more closer to our times, Claudia Andujar’s photos of indigenous peoples, Cláudia Jaguaribe’s pictures of the city’s buildings, Claudio Edinger’s details of buildings, Alexandre Órion’s interpretations of urban landscapes in his graffiti works, among others.
The underground level contains experiments in Brazilian art, with the sections Conceptual Cybernetics, Theory of Values, Nature, Subjectivity, Writing and Gambiarra [Improvisation]. Cildo Meirelles is present on this floor with Zero Cruzeiro, a lithograph on a currency bill. In addition, on this floor there are many artists ranging from pop art’s Antonio Dias or Antonio Henrique Amaral to Beatriz Milhazes or Berna Reale, in subjectivities, and not forgetting Portinari, and contemporary artists Iran Espírito Santo, Paulo Bruscky, Hélio Oiticia and Lygia Clark.
The first floor focuses on the postwar period (Second World War), when, according to the curators, a number of issues rallied Brazilian artists around the visual arts. The sections are: Generational, Two-dimensional – Color Regimes, Two-dimensional – Geometry of Light, Three-dimensional. Here are the first generation kinetic artists, such as Abraham Palatnik, the colors of Amélia Toledo or the prints of Maria Bonomi, their transversality with historical moments and conceptual artists. There are also works by Ana Maria Maiolino, Antonio Manuel, José Resende, Paulo Pasta, Volpi and Maria Martins, among others.
In the second and last floor, the visit continues through the social formation of Brazil: the Baroque and the Neo Baroque both equally focusing on two traumatic passages in Brazilian history: slavery and the conquest of indigenous lands. Here there we find Aleijadinho and Mestre Valentim, but also the contemporary artist Adriana Varejão; or Albert Eckhout and Alberto da Veiga Guignard. On display on this floor is a document for the sale of slaves next to the amount in gold coins that represented their value as merchandise. It is here that Afro-Brazilian art is concentrated, with 19 of the recently acquired works by artists such as Alcides Pereira dos Santos, Ayrson Heráclito and Jaime Lauriano.
Showcasing the largest selection from the Itaú Unibanco Art Collection ever exhibited together, ranging from the first work purchased by Olavo Egydio Setubal, in the late 1960s, to the newest acquisitions for the collection and the reconstruction of a public sculpture by Ascânio MMM (removed by the city government in 1989 for restoration, it was deemed beyond repair and was never returned), the exhibition Ways of Seeing Brazil: Itaú Cultural celebrates 30 remember three decades of existence of the institution dedicated to Brazilian art and culture and highlights the series of activities carried out by the institution since it foundation in 1987.
A constellation of Brazilian art
celebrates 30 years of Itaú Cultural
in an exhibition at the Oca
Modos de Ver o Brasil: Itaú Cultural 30 Anos
[Ways of Seeing Brazil: Itaú Cultural celebrates 30]
Exhibition dates: May 25 to August 13, 2017
Tuesdays to Sundays: from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Appropriate for all audiences - Free Admission
At the Oca
Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral, Portão 3, Parque Ibirapuera
Phones: +55 11 2168-1776/1777
Avenida Paulista, 149, Estação Brigadeiro do Metrô
Phones: +55 11 2168-1776/1777
Parking: Entrance on Rua Leôncio de Carvalho, 108
If visitors have their parking ticket stamped at the Itaú Cultural reception desk:
3 hours: R$ 7; 4 hours: R$ 9; 5 to 12 hours: R$ 10.
Valet parking with insurance, free for bicycles.
Phone: +55 11 5056-9800
Cristina R. Durán: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karinna Cerullo: email@example.com
Amanda Viana: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roberta Montanari: email@example.com