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The Formation of an Ambience: The First Exhibition of Brazilian Contemporary Art in Austria (1959-1960)

Termin Label
Research Webinar
Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften
Online via Zoom

Lecture by Susanne Neubauer in collaboration with Marcelo Mari as part of the lecture series Transatlantic Modernities between Brazil and Austria. 

The year 1959 marks an exciting turning point in the European post-war period, since in this year the importance of modern and contemporary art was once again subjected to a status report, before New York, the new art capital, declared the farewell of the traditional panel painting. Brazil plays an important role in this context as a non-European-US-American country, since art in Brazil was about to take an individual path in 1959. At the same time it was shown more broadly internationally. Boosted by the founding of the São Paulo Biennial in 1951 and the construction of Brasília, which gained the attention of the world public at the latest with its inauguration as a planned capital in 1960, Brazilian art also entered the international discourse in the context of the trend of transnational exchange exhibitions. The lecture focuses on the first comprehensive group exhibition of Brazilian which toured European cities in 1959 and 1960. This exhibition, which showed works from the 1920s to the newest production, was also on view at the Vienna Academy of Arts as a second stop. The article sheds light on the cultural-political background of this pivotal exhibition and embeds it into the contemporary discourse around the various declining and emerging art movements such as Constructive Art, Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel. Understood as a microhistory, the second part of our investigation also looks at the journalistic dialogue conducted by the Brazilian art critic and intellectual Mário Pedrosa with European critics, especially the Austrian critic of Die Presse, Jorg Lampe. Lampe had been one of the few to take a nuanced view of the works on display in the exhibition.


Susanne Neubauer studied art history, economics and film studies at the University of Zurich and completed her doctoral thesis on the installation work of the American artist Paul Thek in 2011. She was curator at the Kunstmuseum Luzern (2002-2009) and has since worked as an independent curator and scholar for art academies and museums (Moderna Museet Stockholm, Lehmbruck Museum Duisburg, Vorarlberger Kunstverein). She was lecturer, fellow or visiting professor at Kingston University London (2009-2014), University of the Arts London (2012), HBK Braunschweig (2014) and Universidade de Brasília (2017) and was research assistant to the director of HGK Basel (2013-2014). In her last position at Freie Universität Berlin, she researched projects of postwar modernity in Brazil and Germany. In 2018, she was a scholarship holder for cultural criticism at the Landis & Gyr Foundation in London.

Marcelo Mari has a doctorate in Brazilian intellectual Mário Pedrosa and currently teaches art theory and history at the Universidade de Brasília. His current research focuses on the heritage of art and modern architecture and their relationship to Brazilian politics. He recently published “Mobiliário moderno: das pequenas fábricas ao projeto da UnB” (“Modern furniture: from small factories to the UnB project”) (UnB Publisher, 2014) and “Ditadura, modernização conservadora e universidade: debates sobre um projeto de país” (“Dictatorship, conservative modernization and university: debates on a country’s project”) (UFG Publisher, 2015).

Time: 9 am (Brazilian time) / 2 pm (Austria time) - duration 2 hours


Meeting-ID: 991 6687 8058

Language : English