press release

The Museu de Arte Moderna presents an anthology of itself, with close to 700 works on view from its collection, which is conformed by more than 4500 pieces.

The Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo wishes to invite special guests to the OCA, in Parque Ibirapuera, on October 2nd for a private view of the exhibition MAM na OCA. Open to a general public on October 3rd, this is the first large exhibition of MAM´s collection. Curated by Tadeu Chiarelli, Felipe Chaimovich, and Cauê Alves, the show gathers close to 700 works from the Museum´s collection, conformed by more than 4,500 works from the ´50s until today.

The curators wish to reflect on the history of the museum and present a new perspective on contemporary Brazilian art, instead of a chronological exhibition of works from the collection. Furthermore, recognized architects, Daniela Thomas and Felipe Tassara, have headed the spatial design of the exhibition.

Founded in 1948, with many works from the private collection of the Italian-Brazilian industrialist, Ciccillo Matarazzo and Yolanda Penteado, the MAM opened on the following year with an exhibition on figurative and abstract art. In 1951, the first Bienal do Museu de Arte Moderna takes place, with the participation of 21 countries. Gaining importance very quickly, the Bienal had more resonance than the own museum.

In 1962, Mr. Matarazzo established the Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, and in 1963 donated the entire MAM´s collection, to the Museum of Contemporary Art - USP (University of São Paulo). Without the collection that originated it, it was only towards the end of the ´60s that the museum was able to gather a new collection. In 1969, the museum organizes its first Panorama de Arte Brasileira, a mapping of the artistic production emerging in Brazil, which became one of its main and fundamental events.

Bet on the new collection

One of the primal intentions of the exhibition is to combat the “trauma” that the museum experienced with the loss of its collection. As interesting as its new acquisitions were, the situation caused the MAM´s directors and older staff, a certain nostalgia. The new works could never attain the quality and importance of the previous ones. So, instead of considering 1948 as the foundation of the museum, the curators decided to focus on museum’s trajectory starting from 1968, when the reconstitution of the collection commenced.

Under the administration of Milú Villela, the bet on these new works and artists finally gained much strength in 1995. That same year, the museum had less than 2000 works in its collection, in contrast to the more than 4500 works that it owns today. Great talents were discovered and promoted by the museum, among them photographers Caio Reisewitz, Mauro Restiffe, and Márcia Xavier.

The idea of organizing MAM na OCA at the same time as the São Paulo Bienal, has partially to do with complementing the event by offering a panorama that focuses precisely on Brazilian art.


The works on the underground level interact with the lower floor as a metaphor of the institution´s subconscious, still marked by the absence of the works lost in 1963. This absence led to the creation of a “land of shadows” that transformed the museum’s situation into a metaphor of Brazilian and South American culture, built on the absences and often on the a-critical impositions of a hegemonic knowledge.

For this reflection, more than 200 works that do not take part of the “solar” and “translatable” production of hegemonic productions connected to the Brazilian modernism of 1922 or to the formalistic modernism, but to the “traitorous” works of pre-established impositions. This space assembles works of artists that question ideas, such as Regina Silveira – whose work brought the idea of shadows -- Nelson Leirner, Paulo Buennos, Vik Muniz, Oswald Goeldi, Waltercio Caldas, Miguel Rio Branco, and Gustavo Rezende.

Ground Floor

With 285 works, the space of the ground floor seeks to stimulate reflection on the relation between art, city, and space. One of the main themes is the bankruptcy of Brazilian modernity in the ‘50s – a period in which great part of MAM´s collection was produced. “It is interesting to reflect upon this inside the Oca, constructed by Oscar Niemeyer, and inside Parque do Ibirapuera itself, which was a present from the government upon the four-hundredth anniversary of São Paulo’s founding, in 1954,” says Cauê Alves.

At the very entrance visitors can see a series of photographs from the end of the ‘40s, produced by artists such as Geraldo de Barros, Thomas Farkas, and German Lorca, on the construction of Brasília, which are related to more recent photographs like those by Mauro Restiffe, of the inauguration of Lula. Also on display are artists such as Alfredo Volpi, whom in the view of the curator, gave a different continuity to modern painting.

Another evident criteria is the selection of artists that question the urban utopia. Fabiano Marques for instance, plays with the impossibility of modern design to present new paths, and the neoconcretists who craft the urban transformation project but are already well aware of its limitations too.

Among other artists in this section are the constructivists Hércules Barsotti, Amílcar de Castro, and Lígia Clark, Daniel Acosta, Ana Tavares, Cildo Meirelles, Livio Abramo, Anatol Wladyslaw, Paulo Monteiro, and Mira Schendel.

First Floor

The close to 240 works on the first floor intend to reflect on meanings in modern art, including inner questionings of the work itself. The connection of this level with the ground floor is emphasized by posters of Almir Mavignier, that mix the image of Brasília with words and other elements that also propose, a reflection on space and language.

Among the groupings into which the floor is divided are: “Nome Próprio” (Own Name), reuniting subjective and individual experiences of the ‘90s; “Limite do Sentido” (Limit of the Senses), with works that explore the frontiers of language, now losing its meaning; “Sintaxe de Palavras” (The Syntax of Words) which seeks analogies with concepts of syntax, such as the subordination among the elements; and “Palavra Censurada” (Censored Word), with works created during the military dictatorship and that were censored. In this last group, a recent installation by Marcelo do Campo is shown, in which a woman is beaten about, simulating a video produced in “the years of lead,” as the military dictatorship is referred to..

Some artists deserve individual space within this proposal: engraver Arthur Luiz Piza, who created a triangular vocabulary comparable to cuneiform; Mira Schendel, with works that unite letters, types, and graphic signals; and Leonilson, in a space solely for works that involve words.

Second Floor

And finally, the second floor brings together the work of emerging artists like Marepe, Franklin Cassaro, Pazé, and João Loureiro.

Parallel Exhibit

Parallel to the MAM na OCA exhibition in São Paulo will be held the exhibit of part of the collection of the Museu de Arte Moderna at the Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderna (Ivam) in Valência, Spain. Under the title of Desidentidades (Dis-Identities), it will have as curatorial discourse, the process of the overcoming of Brazilian myths, the indigenous myth and the modernist one.

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An Exhibition About the History of MAM-SP and its Collection

mit Livio Abramo, Daniel Acosta, Geraldo de Barros, Hercules Barsotti, Paulo Buenoz, Waltercio Caldas, Marcelo do Campo, Franklin Cassaro, Amilcar de Castro, Lygia Clark, Thomaz Farkas, Oswaldo Goeldi, Nelson Leirner, Jose Leonilson, German Lorca, Joao Loureiro, Marepe , Fabiano Marques, Cildo Meireles, Paulo Monteiro, Vik Muniz, Paze , Arthur Luiz Piza, Mauro Restiffe, Gustavo Rezende, Miguel Rio Branco, Mira Schendel, Almir da Silva Mavignier, Regina Silveira, Ana Maria Tavares, Alfredo Volpi, Anatol Wladyslaw