Analyzing key examples from Cildo Meireles, Antonio Manuel, Artur Barrio, Anna Bella Geiger, Sonia Andrade, Geraldo Mello, and others, the book offers a new framework for theorizing artistic practice. By focusing on the core economic, media, technological, and geographic conditions that circumscribed artistic production during this pivotal era, Shtromberg excavates an array of art systems that played a role in the everyday lives of Brazilians. An examination of the specific historical details of the social systems that were integrated into artistic production, this unique study showcases works that were accessed by audiences far outside the confines of artistic institutions. Proliferating during one of Brazil’s most socially and politically fraught decades, the works—spanning cartography to video art—do not conform to an easily identifiable style, form, material use, or medium. As a result of this breadth, Art Systems gives voice to the multifaceted forces at play in a unique chapter of Latin American cultural history.
Brazilian avant-garde artists of the postwar era worked from a fundamental but productive out-of-jointness. They were modernist but distant from modernism. Europeans and North Americans may feel a similar displacement when viewing Brazilian avant-garde art; the unexpected familiarity of the works serves to make them unfamiliar. In Constructing an Avant-Garde, Sérgio Martins seizes on this uncanny obliqueness and uses it as the basis for a reconfigured account of the history of Brazil's avant-garde. His discussion covers not only widely renowned artists and groups—including Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, Cildo Meireles, and neoconcretism—but also important artists and critics who are less well known outside Brazil, including Mário Pedrosa, Ferreira Gullar, Amílcar de Castro, Luís Sacilotto, Antonio Dias, and Rubens Gerchman.
Martins argues that artists of Brazil's postwar avant-garde updated modernism in a way that was radically at odds with European and North American art historical narratives. He describes defining episodes in Brazil's postwar avant-garde, discussing crucial critical texts, including Gullar's “Theory of the Non-Object,” a phenomenological account of neoconcrete artworks; Oiticica, constructivity, and Mondrian; portraiture, self-portraiture, and identity; the nonvisual turn and missed encounters with conceptualism; and monochrome, manifestos, and engagement.
The Brazilian avant-garde's hijacking of modernism, Martins shows, gained further complexity as artists began to face their international minimalist and conceptualist contemporaries in the 1960s and 1970s. Reconfiguring not only art history but their own history, Brazilian avant-gardists were able to face contemporary challenges from a unique—and oblique—standpoint.
Daniel Wojcik's interdisciplinary study challenges prevailing assumptions about the idiosyncratic status of outsider artists. This wide-ranging investigation of the art and lives of those labeled outsiders focuses on the ways that personal tragedies and suffering have inspired the art-making process. In some cases, trauma has triggered a creative transformation that has helped artists confront otherwise overwhelming life events. Additionally, Wojcik's study illustrates how vernacular traditions, religious worldviews, ethnic heritage, and popular culture have influenced such art. With its detailed consideration of personal motivations, cultural milieu, and the potentially therapeutic aspects of art making, this volume provides a deeper understanding of the artistic impulse and human creativity.
Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980) occupies a central position in the Latin American avant-garde of the postwar era. Associated with the Rio de Janeiro-based neo-concretist movement at the beginning of his career, Oiticica moved from object production to the creation of chromatically opulent and sensually engulfing large-scale installations or wearable garments. Building on the idea for a film by Brazilian underground filmmaker Neville D'Almeida, Oiticica developed the concept for Block-Experiments in Cosmococa--Program in Progress (1973-1974) as an "open program": a series of nine proposals for environments, each consisting of slide projections, soundtracks, leisure facilities, drawings (with cocaine used as pigment), and instructions for visitors. It is the epitome of what the artist called his "quasi-cinema" work--his most controversial production, and perhaps his most direct effort to merge art and life. Presented publicly for the first time in 1992, these works have been included in major international exhibitions in Los Angeles, Chicago, London, and New York.
Drawing on unpublished primary sources, letters, and writings by Oiticica himself, this illustrated examination of Oiticica's work considers the vast catalog of theoretical references the artist's work relies on, from anticolonial materialism to French phenomenology and postmodern media theory to the work of Jean-Luc Godard, Andy Warhol, and Brazilian avant-garde filmmakers. It discusses Oiticica's work in relation to the diaspora of Brazilian intellectuals during the military dictatorship, the politics of media circulation, the commercialization of New York's queer underground, the explicit use of cocaine as means of production, and possible future reappraisals of Oiticica's work.
This collection of original essays is divided into four chronological sections: cultural and artistic production in the preÐCold War era that set the stage for transnational solidarity organizing; early artistic responses to the rise of Cold War polarization and state repression; the centrality of cultural and artistic production in social movements of solidarity; and solidarity activism beyond movements. Essay topics range widely across regions and social groups, from the work of lesbian activists in Mexico City in the late 1970s and 1980s, to the exchanges and transmissions of folk-music practices from Cuba to the United States, to the uses of Chilean arpilleras to oppose and protest the military dictatorship. While previous studies have focused on politically engaged artists or examined how artist communities have created solidarity movements, this book is one of the first to merge both perspectives.
“The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,” The Gardner Heist by Ulrich Boser is a fascinating account of a brazen and amazing criminal act—a book that could help police and investigators solve the mystery of the 1990 break-in and burglary at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. “A tantalizing whodunit” (Boston Globe) and a “riveting, wonderfully vivid account [that] takes you into the underworld of obsessed art detectives, con men, and thieves” (Jonathan Harr, author of The Lost Painting), The Gardner Heist is true crime history at its most spellbinding.