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Controversies of a Juror

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During the 4th Bienal de São Paulo in 1957, many artists excluded from the selection confronted the selection commitee. Still more controversy was created when Alfred Barr Jr, member of the award jury and former director of New York's Museum of Modern Art, criticised Brazilian and Argentinian Concrete art as mere ‘bauhaus exercises’. Lourival Gomes Machado, director of the first Bienal, reproached Barr for ignoring ‘Brazil's artistic reality’. Mário Pedrosa, who was aligned with Concrete artists, replying to Barr's comments, stated that the North American critic wanted Brazilian art to conform to international taste and produce Abstract Expressionism. This article investigates the episode in order to understand the relations between Barr and Brazil's artistic debate, at this point dominated by diverse abstract productions, drawing on the testimonies of Gomes Machado and Pedrosa, eminent critics of the 1950s, as well as an interview given by Alfred Barr during the time of the exhibition.

Keywords: Abstract Expressionism; Alfred Barr Jr; Bienal de São Paulo; Brazilian art; Concrete art; Frans Krajcberg; Lourival Gomes Machado; Mário Pedrosa; abstract art; informalist painting

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2012

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