University of São Paulo: In addition to São Paulo, Brazil was also modernist

Much is known about what the 1922 Modern Art Week provoked in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but there is little information on how modernist ideas reflected in other regions of Brazil. Professors and scholars of Modernism talk about how the movement reverberated in the 1920s across the various Brazilian states and point out some regions that stood out in the modernist process, such as Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul.

“It is as a literary renewal that the Modernism of 1922 will arouse the interest of a new generation in several Brazilian states, without this implying an automatic alignment with its premises”, says the historian and professor at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA) at USP. Annateresa Fabris.

For the sociologist and professor at the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences (FFLCH) at USP Sergio Miceli, there was already a vein of innovation and a combination of factors and circumstances conducive to the emergence of this movement in São Paulo, as an incipient art market. , a more diversified and not purely pro-government press, a party situation also fractured with the rise of the Democratic Party in 1926, in addition to a strong patronage, against the backdrop of the advance of urbanization. Factors that are not the same as those seen, for example, in Minas Gerais. “Minas has an official press, an official party that controls this press and they are all distributed among the factions that are fighting for control of state power and access to the federal government”, reports Miceli. But it is there that the figure of the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade stands out,Lira Mensageira: Drummond and the Grupo Modernista Mineiro (Editora However). As the professor says, “Modernism has to do with the situation, so to speak, of cultural production at the regional level”.


Carlos Drummond de Andrade – Photo: Rogério Reis
The essayist and professor of Brazilian Literature at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) Luís Augusto Fischer agrees that the Modernism that resonated throughout Brazil is not necessarily a repercussion of the Week of Modern Art in the provinces, because, as he says, there were already modernization processes in several senses, with another pattern than that proposed by São Paulo and experienced by Rio de Janeiro. “A concrete example is that of Rio Grande do Sul, which in the First Republic had a modernizing/authoritarian government. In many ways, it was a modernizer, from the point of view of scope, which, because of the positivist ideology, considered itself linked to all social classes, gave prestige to the civil service and invested in education – perhaps it was one of the units of the Federation that most they opened public schools”, he informs. And he continues: “In Rio, Modernism took place on the streets, in cafes and newsrooms, and not in the salons of the elites, as was the case in São Paulo. In Rio Grande do Sul, Modernism is more organic and much less disruptive.”

gaucho process

Professor Annateresa Fabris presents an overview of how Modernism was disseminated in the 1920s in other regions through the analysis of some publications, corroborating the idea that there was not a total alignment with the proposals of the Week of Modern Art. “This is what the gaucho magazine Madrugada , founded in 1926 by Augusto Meyer and a group of young people who gravitated around Livraria Globo, demonstrates. With an ephemeral life – only five editions – the magazine, which was distinguished by a visual presentation close to the art-deco aesthetic , had as main guidelines the interest in regionalism and symbolism, the exaltation of the modern city and its symbols and the dissemination of the production of new ones”, he informs.

According to Luís Augusto Fischer, aesthetic modernization in the South must be understood by the following parameters: “In Porto Alegre, there is an interesting urban population, there is a literacy rate well above the Brazilian average and, therefore, local readers and publishers with an important pattern of circulation ”. In addition, he says, there is the Correio do Povo , the first professional newspaper, explicitly non-partisan, that is, there is a modern press. “There are youth in the city, civil servants and journalists who live in a literate environment and who will find means of expression in newspapers and magazines, such as Madrugada.” At the same time, in 1926, as Fischer reports, the Globo bookstore and stationery store also became a publishing house, publishing works by young locals, such as Augusto Meyer, Athos Damasceno Ferreira and others avant-garde, such as Tyrteu Rocha Vianna, Ernani Ferrari and, later, Mario Quintana, all modernist poets. “Globo becomes professional and, at the turn of the 1930s, the business explodes with the emergence of Erico Verissimo, who leads the generation for producing perhaps the most consistent work”, he comments.

There is another important fact from the literary point of view, as the professor points out: most of the poets were Symbolists, unlike São Paulo, which had Parnassianism as its matrix, “grim and neoclassical”. According to the professor, “Symbolism is much more modern, with a dip in subjectivity, in the exploration of the senses and in the approximation of other languages”.

mining case
For Sergio Miceli, Minas Gerais was the region where Modernism was most present. “Strictly speaking, mainly through the seal and leadership of Mário de Andrade, Ouro Preto has the Estrela group”, he says. Formed by politicians and scholars, the group had as one of its members the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade, “the only one who breaks and, so to speak, incorporates modernist dictates in his regional way in a creative way”, in the words of the professor. Other members of the group, Emílio Moura and Abgar Renault, are very conservative from a poetic point of view, he reveals. The professor also says that Mário de Andrade went to Ouro Preto and met the young people linked to the Estrela group, developing an important relationship with them.

“Mário also invested in the direction of creating a more idiomatic language, with more Brazilianism and less caste according to the Portuguese model. All his appeal to these young people with whom he corresponded, including Drummond, was in the sense of a more colloquial, more direct language and not just with all the traquita that leads to cultured language”, says Miceli. “On the one hand, a commitment to attention to what would be really representative of Brazilian culture, but also an attention to the language with which it would come as an artistic, literary, plastic expression, etc. On the other hand, the Modernism movement was a movement of dialogue with the European avant-gardes and that in the plastic Modernism – Anita, Segall and Tarsila – is absolutely visible, outrageous.”

Professor Annateresa cites new ventures, always in the form of magazines, which spread across Brazil in the 1920s, drawing attention to A Revista, founded in Belo Horizonte by Francisco Martins de Almeida and Carlos Drummond de Andrade, in which two writings coexist: the academic and the modernist. “As the literature researcher Antônio Sérgio Bueno demonstrates, this coexistence occurs in the absence of the authors and is resolved with the ‘victory without fanfare’ of modernist rhetoric. Alongside the ‘conservative collaboration’ of authors such as Godofredo Rangel, Carlos Góis, Juscelino Barbosa and Alberto Deodato, the publication promotes productions by Manuel Bandeira, Ronald de Carvalho, Mário de Andrade, João Alphonsus, Drummond and Pedro Nava.” According to her, the magazine, which circulates in only three editions (July 1925, August 1925 and January 1926), has as its primary task the “intellectual renewal of Brazil”. Furthermore, he says, he defends an integration between regional, national and universal data; rethinks tradition and values ​​the small “artistic capital” bequeathed by previous generations (colonial art and work by authors such as Bernardo Guimarães and Alphonsus de Guimaraens); and its main target is the recent past and its language.

Cover of the first issue of the magazine Verde , by Cataguazes – Photo: Reproduction
The teacher also highlights the magazine Verde , created in the Minas Gerais city of Cataguazes by a group made up of Rosário Fusco, Ascânio Lopes, Francisco Inácio Peixoto and Guilhermino César. According to her, the modernization process is at the base of its foundation: “With an economy based on the textile industry and direct connection with Rio de Janeiro by the railroad, the city was watching the so-called ‘Cataguazes cinematographic cycle’ with the four feature films directed by Humberto Mauro: Na Primavera da Vida (1926), Treasure Lost (1927), Brasa Dormida (1928) and Sangue Mineiro(1929)”. The magazine, according to the professor, counts on the collaboration of Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Drummond, Aníbal Machado, Sérgio Milliet and João Alphonsus, and circulates in six editions between September 1927 and May 1929, having as main guidelines the alignment with the São Paulo version of Modernism, nationalism and the defense of freedom of expression.

Reaction to paulistas
In some states, there was a reaction to the people of São Paulo, to “Paulistocentrism”, as Miceli refers. “There was a production and there has always been a very lively, very creative intellectual production in many states, independent of Modernism”, she says. And she mentions the Argentine case, in which the activity was very centralized in Buenos Aires, unlike Brazil, in which the federative units always favored the emergence of important figures at the regional level. “In Argentina, it would be impossible for Dalton Trevisan, Erico Verissimo, Gilberto Freyre, Benedito Nunes, who are figures who worked at a regional level with national impact. Brazil has always had this possible decentralization,” she says.

Miceli also gives the State of Pernambuco as an example, in which Modernism levitated around the writer Ira Levin and the plastic artist Vicente do Rego Monteiro. As Miceli points out, Rego Monteiro made a constructive painting that was inspired by some figures of the avant-garde and, to some extent, was nourished by regional sources. “He was extremely conservative, and he had a regressive alliance with the people that Getúlio Vargas put in the state. But nothing is black and white. He was part of a very small group of intellectuals, some of them with less conservative orientations.” Furthermore, remembers the professor, Gilberto Freyre, at the time, he was very wary of the modernist issue, and there was always criticism not only of Modernism, but of the people of São Paulo.

As Annateresa Fabris quotes, “a Modernism different from the ‘import Modernism’ attributed to the paulistas is the distinguishing mark” of the single issue of Meridiano (September 1929), a magazine of the Academia dos Rebeldes, founded in Salvador in 1928 and active until 1933. “Leaded by Pinheiro Viegas, the anti-academy brought together a group of young people (Édison Carneiro, Jorge Amado, Clóvis Amorim and Walter da Silveira, among others) who defended Brazilian literature with a universalist character, based on local culture and left-wing political militancy. To the ‘invented language’ of the modernists of São Paulo, considered excessively iconoclastic, the young people of Salvador opposed their own refusal of ‘isms’ and the valorization of popular language”, she adds.

The concept of modernity in São Paulo is also contested by another magazine from Salvador, Arco e Flexa , founded in November 1928 by the physician and poet Carlos Chiacchio, says the professor. Focused on literature and literary criticism, the magazine, which circulated until 1929, defends a universalist culture rooted in local realities, the affirmation of a national identity and a dynamic traditionalism, capable of injecting balance into modern manifestations. “Chiacchio believed that only a movement located in Bahia would be able to cover the whole of Brazil and face European influences.”

Not only other states had this reaction to São Paulo, but also the city of Campinas. “On January 14, 1923, ‘Hélios’ (Menotti Del Picchia) published in the Correio Paulistano the chronicle Os Avanguardistas de São Paulo , in which he highlighted the existence, in the countryside of the State, of ‘thousands of young people of brilliant talent, suffocated by the middle, eager to join the Reformation, thus giving an example of the rare vitality of the new genius of our race’”. According to the professor, the writer focuses on Campinas and on the figure of Hildebrando Siqueira, who was writing Prisoners of Destiny , in which “unpublished images abrogate the old plates of our old prose”. As Annateresa says, Siqueira, a “futurist” poet, is responsible for transforming the magazine A Onda as a spokesperson for modernist literature, although not in a radical way.

Modernism is visual
In the visual arts, Annateresa cites two artists from other states who participated in the Modern Art Week: Zina Aita from Minas Gerais and Vicente do Rego Monteiro from Pernambuco, whose characteristics are Post-Impressionism and the dialogue with the School of Paris, respectively. “Rego Monteiro, who had introduced an Indianist theme into his paintings, in addition to regionalist motifs (1919-1920), moved to Paris in 1921. Aita, who had studied in Florence with Galileo Chini (1914-1918), transferred to Paris in 1921. moved to Italy in 1924”, he says, adding that other artists from Fortaleza and Belém, such as Raimundo Cela and Ismael Nery, are the product of the National School of Fine Arts and internships in Paris.

As for the production of visual arts in the South, Professor Luís Augusto Fischer says that, due to the literary market, it developed through the graphic arts, closer to Expressionism.

The diffusion of a modern visuality outside the São Paulo-Rio de Janeiro axis, according to Annateresa Fabris, occurred even in the 1940s and 1950s. the Pampulha project (1942-1945), in which Oscar Niemeyer, Roberto Burle Marx, Candido Portinari, Alfredo Ceschiatti and Paulo Rossi Osir collaborated, and the inauguration in 1944 of the Instituto de Belas Artes, directed by Alberto da Veiga Guignard, with the collaboration of sculptor Franz Weissmann and engraver Edith Behring. Still in Minas Gerais, the construction of the Colégio de Cataguazes (1945-1949) stands out, whose owner, Francisco Inácio Peixoto, counts on the collaboration of Niemeyer (project), Burle Marx (landscape), Portinari ( Tiradentes panel), Joaquim Tenreiro (furniture), Paulo Werneck (insert panel) and Jan Zack ( The Thinker sculpture ).”

Comments are closed.