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Volume 58 / Humanities

ART: BRAZIL


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


AS IN RECENT VOLUMES, the overwhelming majority of publications selected for this chapter examine various aspects of 20th-century Brazilian art. In addition, art publishing in Brazil remains proportionally the same as in past years with regard to the fields covered and, while there are few works available on some topics, all of the publications reviewed this biennium deserve the attention of scholars.

Seven theoretical and reference works were annotated and, among them, a few stand out due to the limited bibliography in this field. The impact of European modernity on Brazil (item #bi 97016562#) heads the list, followed by the fine essays on Brazil's self-discovery (item #bi 97016567#). The essays on Brazil's perception of the century are an original contribution to the literature (item #bi 97016557#). Finally, the selected, annotated bibliography of art in Brazil is the most comprehensive work of its kind published to date in a single volume (item #bi 00001484#).

Only two publications have been included for the colonial period. Of these, the rarest and most unusual describes a special expedition in the 18th century in search of examples and specimens of Brazilian flora and fauna (item #bi 97016538#).

Just three items deal with the 19th century. One covers the architecture of sugar mills (item #bi 97016539#), the second discusses Rio de Janeiro watercolors by Robert Pierce (item #bi 94014947#), and the third examines the European vision of Brazilian landscapes and cityscapes (item #bi 97016987#)

Several works on individual artists, regions, and time periods deserve special mention. Lygia Clark is the focus of two recent publications (items #bi 97016560# and #bi 97016602#). The catalog of Lasar Segall's works is one of the finest and most detailed studies of the expressionist master (item #bi 00001483#), while avant-garde in Bahia is the subject of a broad study (item #bi 97016600#). A long overdue monograph on Victor Brecheret is very welcome (item #bi 97016996#), as is a fascinating essay on Siron Franco (item #bi 97016997#). Tomás Santa Rosa, one of the most significant pioneers of 20th-century Brazilian set and costume design, is the well-chosen subject of a work reviewed here (item #bi 97017004#). The visual conceptualization of Brazil by its own artists provides an important perspective on the Brazilian art world (item #bi 97016540#), while a historical study of the artistic milieu of São Paulo in the 1940s and 1950s provides the reader with an original and creative examination of the period (item #bi 97016603#).

The regions of Brazil have lately been the focus of a number of studies; the work on Rio Grande do Sul (item #bi 97016601#) is a case in point. Hélio Oiticica's influence on Brazilian postmodernism is examined in item #bi 94014961#, while Afro-Brazilian arts, artists, and traditions are the focus of two major publications: items #bi 97016579# and #bi 97016597#.

Three books stand out among the seven covering architecture and city planning. First, the monograph on Ramos de Azevedo (item #bi 97016570#); second, the survey of contemporary Brazilian architects (item #bi 97016990#); and, third, the one-volume collection of essays on Porto Alegre and its planning (item #bi 97016558#). The guide to Rio's architectural heritage is another useful and welcomed resource (item #bi 94015015#).

The catalog of Brazilian popular art (item #bi 97017000#) offers a broad panorama of the field, while Brazilian Naïf Art of Today is a good reference for the esthetic trends of that category (item #bi 97016576#). Density of Light: Contemporary Brazilian Photography presents an in-depth look at six photographers; (item #bi 97016580#) and Retratos de Família: Leitura da Fotografia Histórica, a historical view of immigrant families, offers a tool for visual anthropology (item #bi 97016583#).

Among the entries in the miscellaneous category, the introduction to the National Library of Rio de Janeiro (item #bi 97016988#) stands out. Tempos de Grossura: o Design no Impasse (item #bi 97016555#) is a welcomed data source, while the profile of Mato Grosso's artistic identity (item #bi 97016564#) is a new approach. Brazilian graphic designers (item #bi 97016554#) are introduced here as an eclectic group of varying interests. Meanwhile, Images of the Unconscious from Brazil (item #bi 97016577#) contributes to the international body of literature on art as a path to emotional and psychological health. Finally, Revista do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (item #bi 97016608#) provides an excellent source for relevant essays on restoration and preservation.


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