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Volume 52 / Humanities


JOSE M. NEISTEIN, Executive Director, Brazilian-American Cultural Institute, Washington

FEW BUT MOSTLY FINE ENTRIES mark the Brazilian subsections this year, with the exceptions of the "20th Century" and "City Planning, Architecture, and Landscape Architecture" subsections, which are proportionally larger in number and significance.

Among reference and theoretical works, the overall view of the Sao Paulo Biennials from 1951 to 1987 (item bi 91014864) should be mentioned both for its wealth of information, as well as for the intrinsic importance of the institution itself. The dictionary of Indian crafts (item bi 91014855) is very useful as it includes Latin and English equivalents, the catalog of the Brazilian art collection of the Sao Paulo "Pinacoteca" is a welcome tool for reference and research (item bi 91004138).

Although lacking scholarship, "O barroco carioca" (item bi 91014866) calls our attention to a lesser known field of colonial art in Brazil, namely the Baroque movement in Rio de Janeiro. Colonial painting, less studied than the other arts of the period is examined in the Bahian context by Ott (item bi 90006543). Studies of the Dutch presence in 17th-century Pernambuco are gradually increasing as well (item bi 91014869).

As 19th-century Brazilian fashion is not often researched, the pioneering study by Gilda de Mello e Souza is most welcome (item bi 91014880). The contribution of German romantic painting to the development of Brazilian national culture was remarkable; Peixoto's handsome book does it justice, enriched with much information (item bi 91014857).

As in previous volumes of the Handbook, the 20th-century subsection is the richest, both in terms of the quantity and quality of entries. Sacramento's book on Martins de Porangaba (item bi 91004129) introduces to an international audience one of Brazil's very creative and vital modern painters, now reaching his first major artistic peak. The catalog of the "Modernidade" show in Paris is a gathering of information about the most comprehensive show of its kind ever exhibited abroad, or in Brazil (item bi 91004137). A broad overview of Brazilian muralism is offered for the first time (item bi 91014858) and the fine monograph on Gomide was long overdue (item bi 91004130). Rubens Guerchman, who pioneered contemporary urban painting in Brazil, is the subject of an insightful book (item bi 91004135). Cocchiarde and Berger's research highlights the many facets of the important 1950s abstract art movement, (item bi 91014877). Pontual provides a catalog of Gilberto Chateaubriand's collection of 20th-century Brazilian art, the most important collection of its kind in Brazil (item bi 91004128).

Folk art, Indian traditions and Afro-Brazilian traditions, otherwise rich avenues for Brazilian creativity, have not received enough scholarly attention in recent years. Each of these topics is represented by only one albeit a very fine book (items bi 91014856, bi 91000884, and bi 90011527).

On the other hand, city planning, architecture and landscape architecture received much scholarly attention. Worthy of note are Fabris' book on eclecticism in Brazil (item bi 91014874), Xavier's extensive monograph on modern architecture in Porto Alegre (item bi 91004139), and Silva's in-depth research on Luso-Brazilian architecture in Maranhao (item bi 90006544).

Included under the "Miscellaneous" category is Luiz Goldino's thorough and welcome study of the prehistory of Brazilian art (item bi 90011521).

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