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Arai, Alberto T.  

Kathryn O’Rourke

(b Mexico City, Mar 29, 1915; d Mexico City, May 25, 1959).

Mexican architect and theorist. He received a degree in architecture at the Escuela Nacional de Arquitectura (ENA) at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM) in 1940, and studied urbanism at the Instituto Politécnico Nacional in 1941–1942. In 1954 he received a doctorate in Philosophy and Letters at UNAM. Arai built relatively few buildings, but he was one of Mexico’s foremost theorists of architectural modernism. Early in his career he embraced the principles associated with the formally austere, politically engaged architecture that dominated Mexico City in the 1930s; later he became fascinated by the architecture of indigenous Mexico and its lessons for modern architects. Arai’s intellectualism distinguished him from many of his colleagues and his study of history and philosophy shaped his sophisticated writings on architecture, urbanism, and indigenous art.

Arai had a distinguished teaching career with appointments in multiple fields and at several institutions. He was professor of architectural theory at ENA from ...


Costa, Lucio  

Sylvia Ficher and Andrey Rosenthal Schlee

(b Toulon, Feb 27, 1902; d Rio de Janeiro, Jul 13, 1998).

Brazilian architect, urban planner, and architectural historian of French birth. Son of Brazilian parents, he moved to Brazil in 1917 and entered the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (ENBA), Rio de Janeiro. A gifted draftsman, he graduated in 1923 after winning prizes during his undergraduate years, as “A gate” (second place, 1922) and “A bench” (first place, 1923).

In his partnership with Fernando Valentim from 1923 on, they adopted an eclectic vocabulary, but shortly after were engaged in the Traditionalist Movement, which took its inspiration from 18th-century Brazilian colonial architecture in an attempt to develop a national style. They built several residences, such as: the Raul Pedrosa house (1924), the Álvaro Alberto Mota e Silva house (1926), the Evelina Klindelhoffer house (1927), and the Fernando Valentim house (c. 1926), all in Rio de Janeiro. Outside Rio, they built the Arnaldo Guinle house (...


Modernism and the avant-garde in Latin America  

Esther Gabara

In Spanish, “modernismo” most often refers to the 19th-century literary movement inaugurated by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, which created a highly imagistic, literary language of the Americas. “Vanguardia” in Spanish and “modernismo” in Portuguese name the radical 20th-century experiments with the image, critiques of representation, and debates over the political and social role of art associated with “avant-garde” in English. Intellectuals from Latin America produced a rich bibliography about these terms that provide a periodization, as well as conceptual and aesthetic proposals, which diverge from the hegemonic cases of Europe and the United States. They distinguished artistic modernism and avant-gardes—in the visual arts, architecture, literature, and music—from progressive models of history that equated economic and political modernization with cultural advancement. From José Carlos Mariátegui and Mário de Andrade in the 1920s to more recent writing by Haroldo de Campos, Beatriz Sarlo, and Enrique Düssel, the periodization and definition of modernism has been grounded in a critique of colonialism as the original modernizing project, and a rejection of its continued violence throughout the 20th century. As colonial discourse was grounded in violent racial and gender formations, the modernist avant-gardes confronted these concepts in both the form and substance of their work....


Warchavchik, Gregori  

Regina Maria Prosperi Meyer

revised by Helena Bender

(b Odessa, Apr 2, 1896; d São Paulo, Jul 27, 1972).

Brazilian architect of Russian birth. He studied at the Odessa School of Art (1912), in the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), resuming his education at the Reggio Istituto Superiore di Belle Arti (1918–1920) in Rome, Italy. After graduating, Warchavchik worked for Italian architect Marcello Piacentini, assisting in the design of economic housings and the Teatro Savoia’s construction in Florence (1922–1923). In 1923 he moved to São Paulo to work for the Companhia Construtora de Santos (1923–1926), establishing a private office in 1927. Maintaining his work in São Paulo, Warchavchik associated himself with Lucio Costa between 1932 and 1933. He also helped Costa to renovate the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, working as a professor of architectural composition (1930–1932). Additionally, Warchavchik was the first Latin American delegate of the International Congresses of Modern Architecture (CIAM) from 1930 to 1933. Warchavchik was an avant-garde architect in Brazil. He designed and built the first modern houses and published the first manifesto on modern architecture in the country....