By Percival Tirapeli and Oscar D’Ambrosio, UNESP – Universidade Estadual Paulista



Known as the city where the Week of Modern Art took place, and which marked the very start of modernism in Brazil, São Paulo city, due to its own cosmopolitan traits was also shelter to a great number of foreign artists, mainly those from Italy, Japan, and Eastern Europe, who left their signature in the city – each of them in their own way.

Learning a little about these painters, sculptors and architects, taking into account how they contribute to the development of the so-called “-ism” elements that turned São Paulo city into a unique place in the national artistic scenario – this may be the key to a better vision of Brazilian art itself.

The futurism of Italians, the expressionism of immigrants from Central Europe, the Parisian modern trends and the proletarian immigrants from the first decades of the 20th Century will revolutionize Paulista arts and culture sooner disseminated throughout the country.

In the 1950s, modern art figurative as yet assimilates the abstraction brought in by large exhibitions organized by the Biennial Art Show created by Ciccilo Matarazzo, a rich son of Italian immigrants. The neo-concentrism and abstractionism of groups made up of Japanese individuals interact with geometric abstraction of Romanian immigrant painter Samson Flexor.

The industrial city rises as a candidate to a cultural city with the creation of museums such as MASP, MAM, and MAC/USP.  The “-ism” elements during military dictatorship from 1964 to 1982 incorporate the North American pop-art trends, followed by the transvanguarda movement, definitively placing Brazilian art onto the international course of large exhibitions and, also,market.



As a matter of fact, Paulista intellectual elite were excited about industrialization and progress as the city had had a considerable urban growth over a period of ten years. Its population, for example, jumped from 240 thousand inhabitants, in 1910, to 500 thousand inhabitants in 1920. The signals of industrialization were clear and the civil construction industry, followed by urban expansion, was also fully operational. This climate was favorable to reactions against conservatism, both in arts and in behavior itself. Futurist thinking, Italian avant-garde movement which fiery ideology strongly disapproves of tradition and praises a modern city and the civilization’s technology transformed by technique was usual during that period.

Founded in 1909, by poet Marinetti, futurism stated as a movement purely literary to which a group of painters and sculptors adhered, with Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla among them. Two manifestoes introduced that year proclaimed the futurist’s aesthetic basis, acclaiming the dynamic sensations of the modern world, speed and physical force. Both artists were collected by Ciccilo Matarazzo, with works in the collection now at MAC-USP.

It was in 1912 that Mário de Andrade brought the Futurist Manifesto by Marinetti to São Paulo and, 14 years later, the Italian poet himself visited the city and Rio de Janeiro, disseminating his thoughts, which attracted a great number of Paulista intellectual young people, who liked to be called “futurists”, although his aesthetics did not fit accurately into the style.

With the rising of both the German and Italian cultures in the city, there was, at the beginning of the 20th Century, a complete campaign to bring the European artistic cultural and intellectual agitation into São Paulo - mainly from Paris and Berlin. The milestone of Brazil’s introduction into the so-called art of avant-garde was Lasar Segall (Vilnius, Lithuania, 1891-São Paulo, SP, 1957). Although his expressionist art exhibitions organized in 1913 in São Paulo and Campinas may not have had much impact, brought supporters together nor polarized opinions, they presented, as he affirmed himself, some typical experiences of expressionist art - alongside works by some more moderated modernism.

In 1923, Segall decided to come back to Brazil and then settle down definitively in São Paulo and gradually started to introduce typically Brazilian colors and themes in his work, such as mulatto women with white children sitting on their laps, sailors, prostitutes, slums and banana trees, works exhibited, over the second half of the 20´s, in Germany, and, in 1928, in Rio de Janeiro. After an exhibition held in Paris, in 1932, Segall founded, in São Paulo, along with other artists, Sociedade Pró-Arte Moderna ( an association for modern art), of which he was the soul and director until 1935. Works such as Navio de Imigrantes (Immigrant´s Ship) and Guerra (War), among other paintings, show pictorial dramatic sequences exhibited since the 70´s at the Lasar Segall Museum, in Vila Mariana neighborhood, where he lived.

If Segall, as a painter, engraver, sculptor, and designer is the first icon of modernism, Anita Malfatti (São Paulo, 1889 – id., 1964), Paulistana from Italian father and North American mother, had wide influence from European masters in her work. After having initially studied with her mother, an amateur painter, she went to Germany to perfect her art skills at the Berlin Academy of Arts, where she was taught by renowned teachers such as Lovis Corinth. Anita went on a tour of the South of Germany to attend an exhibition by impressionists and post-impressionists, and then went on to Paris, returning to Brazil in 1914, when she had her first solo exhibition in São Paulo. Shortly after, a new destination – New York, where she made contact with Juan Gris, Marcel Duchamp, Isadora Duncan, Leon Bakst, Gorjik and Diaghilev, developing a taste for cubism. In 1917, back to São Paulo, Anita organized an exhibition of 53 canvases that was deeply criticized by Monteiro Lobato in a newspaper article called  “Paranoia or Mystification?”. If, on the one hand this Paulista author’s violence imprinted on his article provided him with the solidarity from young artists and painters, it was, on the other hand, decisive for her to lose her self-confidence and, as a result, stop developing her own pictorial language. She synthesizes the spirit of internationalism, also looking at immigrants and creating works as, for example, A estudante russa, O homem amarelo and O japonês ( The russian student, The yellow man and The Japanese man) (BATISTA, 1972, pp. 45-48). Along with Segall and Malfatti, Victor Brecheret (Farnese, Italy, 1894 – São Paulo, SP, 1955) formed the trinity of the beginning of modern art in São Paulo city and Brazil. Brecheret started his studies at Liceu de Artes e Ofícios de São Paulo, in 1912, and his uncles, in trust of his talent, provided him with all the financial sources that would allow him to study sculpture in Europe, where he was a pupil of Arturo Dazzi, in Rome. His efforts produced immediate results. In 1916, at the age of 22, Brecheret was awarded, in Paris, at the International Exhibition of Arts, with his work Despertar ( Awakening). Over those years, he was highly influenced by important European sculptors, such as Yugoslavian Mestrovic and French Bourdelle and Rodin, at whose funeral he attended, in 1917. In 1919, Brecheret had his atelier in the empty rooms of Palácio das Indústrias, (Industries Palace) where he was discovered by modernist artists. His works were exhibited during the Week of Modern Art, although Brecheret was in Paris, in 1922, on a scholarship granted by the Government of São Paulo State. His masterpiece, which combines the European technique with a national theme, is Monumento às Bandeiras (1936-1953) (Monument to the Bandeiras, - expeditions to the hinterland searching for gold and indian slaves), a huge group of 40 figures installed at Parque do Ibirapuera.

Held between 11 and 18 February, 1922, at the Municipal Theater in São Paulo, the Week of Modern Art was a milestone. Di Cavalcanti, in his memoirs Viagem de minha vida - Testamento da Alvorada (Journey of my life – the dawn legacy), wrote in 1955, affirms that he had organized the event, having as a model the Week of Deauville in France and other “weeks of European elegance”. (AMARAL, 1972, p. 274). The fact is that while the recitals of Guiomar Novaes’s and composer Heitor Villa-Lobos’s music and poetry were greeted by boos and jeers, the exhibition of fine arts with a catalog cover by Di Cavalcanti himself, did not produce such violent reactions. Several Brazilian and foreign artists took part. Present to the event were Italian sculptor Victor Brecheret and German sculptor Wilhelm Haarberg; painters, the carioca (citizen born in Rio de Janeiro city) Di Cavalcanti, Italian-Paulistana Malfatti, mineira (citizen born in Minas Gerais state) Zina Aita, Swiss John Graz, Alberto Martins Ribeiro, João Fernando de Almeida Prado, Inácio da Costa Ferreira (Ferrignac) and the pernambucano (citizen born in Pernambuco state) Vicente do Rego Monteiro; architects George Pryzirembel, from Polland, and Antônio Garcia Moya, Spanish. (ZANINI, 1983, p. 536). The writers, in their majority, were Paulistas, such as Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Menotti Del Picchia and pianist Guiomar Novaes. From Rio de Janeiro, the following writers participated in the event: Graça Aranha, Ronald de Carvalho and Renato Almeida, and composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. Among the present exhibitors, John Graz (Switzerland, 1895 – São Paulo, SP, 1980) built his artistic career in Geneva, Paris and Munich, and, at the beginning of his career, he was influenced by his compatriot Ferdinand Hodles. He arrived in Brazil in 1920 and impressed avant-garde artists and writers, becoming one of the pioneers of design with his wife, a painter and tapestry maker, Regina Gomide (Itapetininga, SP, 1902 -  São Paulo, SP, 1973). He decorated interiors, into which he introduced Brazilian motifs, and worked on the production of furniture that synthesized the main trends of European art at the time, such as art deco.

Deployments that took place after 1920 were certainly much more important than the “Week” itself. Over that decade, there were an avalanche of manifestoes – two by Oswald de Andrade (Poesia Pau-Brasil, 1924, and Antropofágico, 1928 (Pau-Brasil -brazilian redwood-Poetry and Anthropophagic), one on functionalist architecture, by Gregory Warchavchik (1925), and one from the Grupo Anta (Tapir Group),1929, among many other (ANDRADE, 2000, pp. 469-477). A key figure in that movement was painter Tarsila do Amaral (Capivari, 1886 – São Paulo, SP, 1973), who was very much influenced by European art into creating her own style. In São Paulo, she worked as a trainee in German painter Georg Fischer Elpons’s atelier and, in 1920, traveled to Paris, where she attended the Julian Academy and the atelier of Émile Renard, portrait painter of fashion who introduced Tarsila into modern trends. In 1922, Tarsila attended an exhibition in Paris and then, back to São Paulo, joined the intellectuals from the Klaxon group, such as Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade and Menotti Del Picchia, of whom the “Group of Five” was made up. She travels back to Paris in 1925, taking lessons from André Lothe, Fernand Lèger and Albert Gleizes (AMARAL, 1975, p. 98). She was also introduced to Picasso, De Chirico, Brancusi, Manuel de Falla, Stravinsky, André Breton, Blaise Cendrars and John dos Passos. It was then in 1924, on a trip to Minas Gerais with Oswald and Cendrars, that Tarsila really discovered Brazil, portraying it under the cubist influence. The collections of the Paulista museums, such as Pinacoteca do Estado, Museu de Arte Contemporânea da USP, with A Negra, and Palácio Boa Vista - Government of São Paulo State, in Campos do Jordão, with Os Operários (The Workers), have key works by this painter.

Another artist from the same period who had some European influence and used it to portray Brazilian themes is Osvaldo Goeldi (Rio de Janeiro, 1895 – id., 1961). The son of Swiss scientist Emílio Augusto Goeldi, who came to Brazil invited by the emperor D. Pedro II, he followed on to Berna with his family at the age of six and, in 1915, entered the polytechnic school of Zurich. Two years later, due to his father’s death, he begins to paint, having performed a drawing solo exhibition with the influence of expressionist Alfred Kubin. In 1919, he returned to Rio de Janeiro and two years later he organized an exhibition at Liceu de Artes e Ofícios de São Paulo that greeted him with the appraisal of modernists in the 1930s, when Mário de Andrade wrote an article dedicated to his series of ten prints. Still in the 1920s, Russian-Brazilian architect Gregori Warchavchik (1896-1972) is set apart. He was born in Odessa, Russia, and is said to be the first modern architect in Latin America. Graduated from the University of Odessa, he attended, later on, the Superior Institute of Fine Arts in Rome. He managed the construction of the Savoy Theater, in Florence, and came to work in Brazil in 1923. Two years later he published the first article on modern architecture of the Country, describing home as an item of ordinary consumption (BATISTA, 1972, pp. 9-19). He built in São Paulo the first modernist house of Brazil and Latin America, in 1927, and also designed, among other, the headquarters of several clubs in São Paulo, such as Paulistano, E.C. Pinheiros, Tietê and Hebraica.

Between Wars


In the 1930s, São Paulo saw the rising of several artistic movements and trends directly or indirectly linked to the modernism from 1922. On November 23, 1932, a group of artists and intellectuals got together at Wachavchik’s to establish the Sociedade Pró-Arte Moderna (SPAM) of São Paulo, with the participation of Paulo Rossi Ossir, Lasar Segall, John Graz, Vittorio Gobbis, Wasth Rodrigues, Antônio Gomide, Anita Malfatti and Tarsila do Amaral.

In order to raise funds, the group organized a big party at 1933´s Carnival. With the money, the public was presented with the First Modern Art Exhibition of SPAM that showed, apart from member artists, for the first time in Brazil, works by Picasso, Lèger, Brancusi, Dufy, Juan Gris and De Chirico, among other artists. As many of these artists were only known for their reproductions, the exhibition may be considered one of the most important exhibitions so far organized by individuals in the country. In 1934, SPAM threw another party with the same target of raising funds for future projects. On November 24, 1932, the Clube dos Artistas Modernos (CAM, Modern Artists Club) was opened, founded by Flávio de Carvalho, Di Cavalcanti, Carlos Prado and Antônio Gomide. This group also organized important exhibitions, having as one of their major merits the then innovative appreciation of the artistic production developed in the country by children and mental diseased people.

Between 1935 and 1944, the Santa Helena Group bloomed in São Paulo. This group was formed from the gradual establishment of artist ateliers at Palacete Santa Helena, in Praça da Sé. The place became a meeting space for sessions of living models, where they could exchange thoughts on art and discuss their works and in-lace technical solutions. Made up of Italian and Spanish immigrants or descendants, the Santa Helena Group had as its main members Francisco Rebolo Gonzáles (São Paulo, 1903, id. 1980), Mário Zanini (São Paulo, SP, 1907, id. 1971), Italian Fúlvio Pennachi (Villa Collemandina, Toscana, 1905 – São Paulo, 1992), Aldo Bonadei (São Paulo, SP, 1906, id. 1974), Alfredo Volpi (Lucca, 1896 - São Paulo, SP, 1988), Humberto Rosa (Santa Cruz das Posses, SP, 1908 – São Paulo, SP, 1948), Clóvis Graciano (Araras, SP, 1907 – São Paulo, SP, 1988), Manuel Martins (São Paulo, SP, 1911, id. 1979) and Alfredo Rullo Rizzotti (Serrana, SP, 1909 – São Paulo, SP, 1972).

As a point in common, the members of Santa Helena Group objected to academic art. Most of them were self-learners and followed the advices of painter, designer and architect Paulo Cláudio Rossi Osir (São Paulo, SP, 1890 – id. 1959). Graduated in Europe, alongside Volpi and Zanini, he established, in the 1940s, Azulejos Osirarte, a company devoted to ceramics with works in the Mineira chapel of Pampulha and in Palácio Capanema at Rio de Janeiro. Proletarians, the members of the Santa Helena Group were manual workers. Volpi, Rebolo and Zanini worked as wall painters; Rizzotti, a lathe operator; Bonadei, embroiderer; Pennacchi, a butcher; Graciano, a former railway worker and former blacksmith; and Manuel Martins, an apprentice goldsmith. With this profile, they created works in which there is a combination of spontaneity of self-learning to a certain extent with the wish of bringing their work closer to more popular social layers.

Parallel to Santa Helena Group, it was created, on May 25, 1937, at the Esplanada Hotel, in São Paulo, the first Salão de Maio (May Room). One of the main exhibitors of Salão de Maio was Ernesto de Fiori (1884-1945). He was born in Rome, started his studies in Muhich, with Otto Griner, and initially dedicated to painting, adopting a style influenced by Swiss Ferdinand Hodler. In 1911, he started to study sculpture and produced his first works under the influence of Malliol and Degas (ALMEIDA, 1976, p. 87).

If the Santa Helena Group had Italian individuals and their descendants as its predominant members, the Seibi Group, which stands for “group of painters of São Paulo”, brought together, between 1935 and 1945, the city’s group of Japanese immigrants. It had an almost unknown existence due to existing discrimination against the Japanese during World War II and the barrier to language. In addition, differently from the Santa Helena Group, the Seibi Group had never had headquarters or a common work place, or its members even interacted regularly. Their meetings took place on a monthly basis and at different places. The initial nucleus had, among other members, Tomoo Handa (Utsunomiya, 1906), Walter Sigheto Tanaka (Kumameto, 1910 – São Paulo, SP, 1970) and Yoshya Takaoka (Tokyo, 1909 – São Paulo, SP, 1978). After a first exhibition at Clube Japonês (Japanese Club), in 1938, some members of this group, some of them former workers in coffee bean plantations, began to get closer to modernist circles. The registered mark of such artists was a type of painting able to bridge out a dialog between East and West, with connections between bright shades and precise Oriental lines with post-impressionism, the art style of Cézanne and Van Gogh and fauvist Matisse and Vlaminck. Above all, the Japanese painters made it clear that painting was not copying nature but reaching a sensitive and cosmic making of reality. Dissolved in 1943, with World War II, the Seibi Group reappeared in 1947, with a proposal of encouragement to artistic life of São Paulo, and acted until 1970, ceasing their activities  in 1972. Still in the 1940s, the Japanese artists and their descendants set apart with the creation of two groups. One of them is articulated by Yoshia Takaoka, in 1948, with aesthetic concern for valuing the role of mankind and their emotions in painting. In the same year, in the surroundings of Takashi Fukushima’s frame store, at the old Largo Guanabara, Paraíso neighborhood, the Guanabara Group appeared. It held five collective exhibitions and was then dissolved in 1959, marking the end of Paulista associated painting groups, directly or indirectly connected with the modernists of 1922.


Museums and Biennial Art Show


During the 1950s, the museums and Biennial Art Shows were created, thus initiating some intense exchanging, run by Italian Pietro Maria Bardi at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) and Ciccillo Matarazzo at the International Biennial Art Show. Established in 1947 by Assis Chateaubriant, MASP was located in the Diários Associados building, a design by French Jacques Pillon on 7 de Abril street. In 1968, it was relocated to a building especially constructed on Avenida Paulista for its purpose, designed by Lina Bo Bardi. Its collection, one of the most valuable in Latin America, includes Ticiano, Bosch, Rembrandt, Goya, Degas, Turner, Van Gogh and Picasso, additionally to Portinari, Almeida Junior and Visconti, to name just a few. Another important place for the dialog among artists, the public and critics is the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC), which belongs to the University of São Paulo (USP). Created in 1963 with both collections of Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho and Museum of Modern Art (MAM), it occupies the last store of Pavilhão da Bienal, designed by Oscar Niemayer, and has another main building at Cidade Universitária. Its collection, marked by internationalism, is built on the preferences of Ciccillo with masterpieces of Modigliani, De Chirico, Morandi and Italian futurists, expanded by famous artists, such as Malfatti, Segall, Di Cavalcanti, Tarsila do Amaral, Chagall, Léger and Picasso.

MASP, MAM and mainly the 1st International Biennial Art Show, were the major areas of influence from abstract art. These places followed a cultural development policy inspired by the North American model , which is having the support from the business community and with considerable foreign influence. No need to recall that Italian Pietro Maria Bardi was the first one to run MASP and Belgian Leon Dégan had an identical function at MAM. Both, apart from their European origin, shared continued update on movements such as abstract art that took place in the so-called Old Continent.

Concrete art arrived in Brazil in the 1940s with the exhibitions of Swiss-German Max Bill, Argentine Tomaz Maldonado and the conferences by critic Romero Brest, who brought echoes from the concrete movement in Argentina, at lectures held at the newly opened MASP, in 1950. At Biblioteca Municipal ( City Library) Mário de Andrade, there were a number of debates on Brazilian art and a collection was also developed there, in which graphic arts are highlighted.

The Biennial Art Show of São Paulo seems to be fundamental to the process of development of Brazilian modern art. In its first editions, in the early 1950s, it allowed not only that Brazilian and international art could be compared but also disseminated the avant-garde production among us, both European and North American.

In 1959, the North American action in favor of action-painting was successful in Europe, having an impact on the artistic circle with The New American Painting exhibition, organized in London, and the remarkable presence of Pollock. In the same year, the Biennial Art Show signaled the change of its course. The awarding process, which had been favorable to a constructive object since the award given to Max Bill at the opening exhibition, now mentions Manabu Mabe as the best painter (FARIAS, 2001, p. 104).

Taking into account that, in certain aspects, Japanese-Brazilian painting may be seen as an Oriental version of the American stylistic school of gesture, the award given to Mabe became a way of officially valuing the contribution of Japanese and Japanese-Brazilian artists to the visual Brazilian arts (HOBO, 2002, pp. 20-29).





Swiss representation of concrete artists at the 1st Biennial Art Show of São Paulo and the fact that Max Bill was given, on the occasion, the International Grand Award for sculpture, are significant to the fact that concrete art idea becomes stronger. One year after the 1st Biennial, in 1952, it appeared the Manifesto Ruptura (Rupture Manifesto) and the establishment of Grupo Paulista de Arte Concreta. Two years later, Carioca artists, following similar ways, formed Frente Group. The Ruptura Group consisted of artists such as Lothar Charoux, Kazmer, Fejer, Leopoldo Haar and Anatol Wladislaw, and proposed the renovation of key values of visual arts, taking into consideration the new relations indicated by science and means of communication between space-time, motion and material. They denied, therefore, intuition, and believed that art needed some previous knowledge to be learned by the viewer.

The Paulistas are known as a brave avant-garde. They create Noigrande magazine and, led by Italian Waldemar Cordeiro, made an attempt to put into practice the ideals of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, for whom the intellectuals and artists had an important role in the renovation of industrial society, as their cultural products should integrate to people, to the industrial production system and mass culture. (CORDEIRO, 1977, pp. 74-75). In this respect, Cordeiro, already in 1949, had participated in Do Figurativismo ao Abstracionismo (From Figurativism to Abstracionism)  exhibition, which opens the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, representing Brazilian abstractionism with Cícero Dias and Romanian Samson Flexor. In fact, the abstract, which developed in Europe and in the USA soon after the end of World War II (1945), disseminated throughout Brazil in the same period by actions developed by MAM, especially with non-figurativist Antônio Bandeira and Samson Flexor. From the Biennial Art Show of São Paulo, art critic Mário Pedrosa organized lectures, based on the principles of vision psychology, which led to a number of artists to practice abstract art.



Central and Eastern Europeans


The contribution from artists coming from Central and Eastern Europe is essential to abstractionism. German, Austrian, Polish and Jewish-origin artists looked for shelter in Brazil and here they developed their ideas in all art fields (PFEIFFER, 1995). Painter and mural artist Samson Flexor (Sareka, Romania, 1907 – São Paulo, SP, 1971) is a relevant name. He attended a painting course in Brussels and moved to Paris in 1924. In 1948, he settled down in São Paulo , where he opened Atelier Abstração (Abstraction Atelier), precisely aimed at geometric abstractionism (BRILL, 1990).

After staying in Paris, where he was in touch with cubists, he taught drawing and painting in his atelier, qualifying students such as Wega Néri (1912) and Yolanda Mohályi, devoted to lyrical abstractionism, in addition to Jacques Douchez (1921), Norberto Nicola (1930), Leopoldo Raimo (1912) and Portuguese Alberto Teixeira (1925). Atelier Abstração was essential for the dissemination of abstract art. A pioneer in this genre in Brazil and South America, Flexor was motivated by Leon Dégand, art critic and MAM’s director, during the 1950s.

A foreign follower of wide repercussion was Hungarian painter and designer Yolanda Mohályl (Kolozsvar, Transylvania, 1909 – São Paulo, SP, 1978). Graduated in Fine Arts in Budapest, she settled down in São Paulo in 1931. Initially figurative and expressionist, with strong influence from Segall, she embarked on abstraction in the 1950s, thanks to Flexor, using spots of great plastic vigor, intense brightness and dense background. An important Mohályl’s pupil was Gisela Eichbaum (Manheim, Germany, 1920 – São Paulo, SP, 1996). A designer, she is descendant from a family of musicians and had lived in São Paulo since 1935. She also studied with Flexor and Karl Plattner and integrated Atelier Abstração, additionally to the School of Modern Art of New York.

Another artist who also deserves special reference for the quality of his work is sculptor Franz Joseph Weissmann (Knittelfeld, Austria, 1911). He arrived in Brazil in 1924 and, at Rio de Janeiro, between 1939 and 1941, he attended courses of architecture, sculpture, painting and drawing at Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (National School of Fine Arts). He made, from that point on, monumental sculptures for public spaces in various Brazilian cities, and, in São Paulo, at Praça da Sé and Centro Empresarial Itaú.

Lothar Charoux (Vienna, Austria, 1912 – São Paulo, SP, 1987) is another important name among European artists who came to Brazil. He immigrates and settles down in São Paulo in 1928. In the 1930s, he enrolled in Liceu de Artes e Ofícios and, in 1952, opens Grupo Ruptura, alongside Anatol Wladyslaw and others. Essential name and, at times, forgotten to a certain extent among Eastern European immigrants, is Sepp Baendereck (Hodzag, Yugoslavia, 1920 – São Paulo, SP, 1988), who lived in Germany and came to Rio de Janeiro in 1948. Accompanied by Frans Krajcberg and critic Pierre Restany, he travels along the northern Purus, Solimões and Negro rivers producing an exhibition at the Beaubourg Center of Arts, in Paris, France. English painter Sheila Brannigan (1907-1992) also gives a great contribution to Paulistana art at the end of the 1950s. She had lived in São Paulo since 1957 and brought to Brazil her large experience, having lived in Paris and worked at the ateliers of cubist Lhote, one of Tarsila do Amaral’s masters, as well as Goetz’s. Her informal language is distinct, as she combines expressionism with some particular lyricism, using clear shades, large big spots, graphisms and white shades in the background of her canvases.



Concrete Art and Informalism


The decade introduces a number of debates on the matter of what art means and the value of the so-called concrete art. In December 1956, the 1st National Exhibition of Concrete Art was organized in São Paulo and, in 1959, one further step is taken synchronized with European trends, with the presence of Informalism at the 5th Biennial Art Show of São Paulo, a trend that encourages the non-geometric current. This current, since the end of the 1940s, was hand in hand with Brazilian abstract art, in which it is important to mention values of the Japanese group of immigrants, such as Manabu Mabe, Tikashi Fukushima and Kazuko Wakabashi.

The impact of Biennial Art Shows was decisive for the non-figuration of painting. Initially, due to the presence of abstract, geometric and concrete work and, at the 5th Biennial Art Show in 1959, with tachism or informal painting. Nature’s poetic subjectivism and Oriental cosmic visualization are clearly expressed in the work by Manabu Mabe, who departs from coffee bean plantations and shows his talent from 1946, alongside Takaoka, Tamaki and Kaminagai. Later on, Tomie Ohtake builds her great lyricism abstract work.

In the 1960s, when North American Pop Art becomes stronger in the world of arts, creators like Antônio Dias, Antonio Henrique Amaral, Rubens Gerchman, Nelson Leiner, Cláudio Tozzi and Waldemar Cordeiro absorb it. They take in themes and icons from Brazil, Latin America and Third World popular art and apply to them treatments and techniques from the USA.




In the 1970s, the so-called conceptual art objects to painting and sculpture traditional languages. The “ready-made” revitalization takes place, as well as the artistic use of new technologies, such as offset and photocopying, both of easy reproduction. Postal art, which offers wide exchanging is a strong trend and this movement results in the First Exhibition of Eonic Art or Art with Computer, organized by Waldemar Cordeiro, in 1971. This already pointed out to the presence of installations, which illustrate conceptually the thoughts of its creators, and to the exodus of Brazilian artists to Europe and the USA in pursuit of contact with new technologies.

In the 1980s, teletext and holography are strong trends. At the same time, there is a resumption of painting as a traditional technique, with artists such as Carlos Fajardo (1941), Wesley Duke Lee and Ivald Granato (1949), present at the XVI Biennial Art Show of São Paulo in 1981, and Luiz Áquila (1943) and Jorge Guinle Filho (1947), at the following event.

Still in the Biennial of Art Show, in 1983, the coming of famous names of Italian transvangard painting, such as Sandro Chia, and of German neo-expressionists such as Markus Lüpertz and Anton Peck, influenced Brazilian artists like Manfredo de Souzaneto (1947). At the Biennial Art Show of São Paulo in 1985, the city is rendered with trends such as Transvanguarda, Novos Selvagens, Pattern and New Image which engage in a dialog with Grupo Paulista Casa 7 ( House 7), located in a cluster of houses in Cerqueira César neighborhood.

Since Lasar Segall, with the introduction of the so-called modern arts in Brazil, to Grupo Paulista Casa 7, Brazil is traditionally engaged in a dialog with Europe during the 20th Century. If the painter who was born in Lithuania was of relevance in the first years of modernism, bringing expressionism to the Country, the young Paulista painters from the 1980s not only absorb international trends but export their art.

While Segall incorporated Brazilian color and themes into his work, contemporary young artists not only attended to international rooms and biennial art shoes on a regular basis, mainly in Europe in the USA, but practice some “healthy anthropophagy”, swallowing international trends and returning them successfully, reworked, to the competitive market of international art.   

Anita Malfatti  O Farol  óleo s tela, 46,5 x 61 cm 1915 Col. Gilberto Chateaubriand

Anita Malfatti  O Japonês óleo s.tela, 61 x 51 cm 1915  Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros da USP


Anita Malfatti  Uma Estudante óleo s.tela, 76,5 x 60,5cm, 1915 Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand


Anita Malfatti A Ventania õleo s.tela, 51 x 61 cm, 1915 Palácio do Governo do Estado de São Paulo.


Tarsila do Amaral  Abapuru óleo stela 85x73 cm 1928 Fundación Constantini


Tarsila do Amaral  Antropofagia óleo s.tela, 126 x 142, 1929 Fundação Nemirovsky


Emiliano di Cavalcanti Painel óleo s. tela Galeria del Sur SP ARTE 2018


Candido Portinari Café óleo s tela, 1936 - 130 x 195 cm Museu Nacional de Belas Artes


Candido Portinari Retrato de Mário de Andrade, 1935 óleo s.tela 73,5 x 60 cm Instituto de Estudos Brasileiros da USP Exposição Portinari Popular MASP 2016.


Victor Brecheret Fauno  década de 30 Granito Parque do Trianon São Paulo


Flávio de Carvalho, 1973 óleo s.tela.


Yolanda Mohalyi Diálogo Azul-amarelo óleo s.tela, 140x240cm 1967 Dan Galeria


Samson Flexor Formas superpostas, 1951 óleo s.tela, 67 x82 cm, Palácio Boa Vista do Governo de São Paulo