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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 ...


Bandeira, Antonio  

Roberto Pontual

revised by Elaine Wilson

(b Fortaleza, May 26, 1922; d Paris, Oct 6, 1967).

Brazilian painter. In the first half of the 1940s, while still in his native state of Ceará, he was very active in the introduction of modernist ideas. In 1945 he moved to Rio de Janeiro and in 1946 to Paris, where he spent most of the rest of his life. In Paris, where he studied at the Ecole Supérieure de Beaux-Arts and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, he first painted landscapes and portraits (e.g. Self-portrait, 1947; Rio de Janeiro, Gilberto Chateaubriand priv. col.) that combined elements from Surrealism and Expressionism. He later adopted a gestural abstraction that maintained its links with the outside world through analogies established in poetic titles (e.g. Flowing like a Waterfall, 1964; Rio de Janeiro, Roberto Marinho priv. col.). At the beginning of his stay in France he was briefly part of an informal association with two other artists sharing a similar artistic language, ...


Barragán (Morfín), Luis (Ramiro)  

Keith Eggener

(b Guadalajara, Mar 9, 1902; d Mexico City, Nov 22, 1988).

Mexican architect. Recipient of the Pritzker Prize, he was the most celebrated of Mexico’s modern architects, known for his regionally inflected designs. Born to a wealthy, devoutly Catholic family, he earned his degree in civil engineering from Guadalajara’s Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in 1923, and soon after completed his course in architecture (though the school closed before his degree could be awarded). On trips to Europe and the USA in 1924–1925, 1930, and 1931 he was impressed by the Alhambra and by the work of Le Corbusier; he also made important contacts with muralist José Clemente Orozco, Architectural Record editor Lawrence Kocher, French author, artist, and architect Ferdinand Bac (1859–1952), and Le Corbusier himself, whose lectures he attended in Paris in 1931. Barragán is best known for a small group of gardens, houses, and subdivisions built around Mexico City between 1945 and 1976 that blend Modernist minimalism with brilliant colors and elements drawn from Mexican colonial and vernacular buildings. Called ...


Brazil: art after 1980  

Felipe Chaimovich and Roberto Conduru

Brazilian art after 1980 developed a growing dialogue with international contemporary art, sometimes challenging the latter’s hegemony. The revision of constructive modernism and its criticism in Brazilian art since the 1960s were at stake when young artists faced the globalization of the art world during the 1990s. During the 2000s, a more political concern reinforced collective alliances.

In the early 1980s, Brazil experienced the euphoria of the waning moments of dictatorship, which lasted from 1964 to 1985, and the beginning of a new democratic regime. Dictatorship had compromised the collective project of the avant-garde of the 1960s, as advocated by Hélio Oiticica in the catalog text of the group exhibition Nova Objetividade Brasileira (Brazilian New Objectivity) at the Museu de Arte Moderna of Rio de Janeiro in 1967. Brazilian New Objectivity aimed at a transformation of the national culture by means of experimental art, but dictatorship had prohibited group meetings since ...


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 (...


Fragelli, Marcello  

Carlos A. C. Lemos

revised by Alana Hernandez


(b Rio de Janeiro, Oct 6, 1928).

Brazilian architect. Fragelli studied Architecture at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and graduated in 1952. After completing his studies, he went to work for M. M. M. Roberto, one of the largest modern architectural firms in Brazil. Fragelli adopted some design elements brought up by the Roberto brothers such as the idea to develop structures that transcended the static forms of early functionalism. However, once he formed his own practice in São Paulo in 1961, Fragelli retained an individual approach to design, straying away from the popular Brutalist style of João B. Vilanova Artigas that dominated São Paulo at the time.

Fragelli’s work was characterized by his skillful use of materials such as reinforced concrete, brick, timber, and glass and by the delicate detail of his finishes. His best-known works include several stations on the northern section of the São Paulo Metro, most notably the Ponte Pequeña Metro Station (...


Herrera, Carolina  

Rebecca Arnold

[née Pacanins y Nino, Maria Carolina Josefina]

(b Caracas, Jan 8, 1939).

Venezuelan fashion designer, active also in the USA (see fig.). While Herrera’s designs always contain elements of current fashion, her work is more about the cultivation of a sleek international style that is classically feminine. Her upbringing among the élite, leisured classes of South America encouraged her to view clothing as a visual expression of good taste and ease. Rather than following trends, her designs tend to favor clean lines, with a focus on detail.

Herrera was brought up in an environment where clothes were bought from Parisian couturiers, such as Cristobal Balenciaga, or made by skilled local dressmakers. In each case, craftsmanship and structure were important, combined with a desire to acknowledge wealthy women’s lifestyles within the design of each garment. Herrera therefore developed an appreciation for refined design skills and good fit early in her life, which was to prove crucial to her own evolution as a designer. Combined with this awareness of fashion’s central role in the life of wealthy women was her cosmopolitan outlook. This was nurtured by regular trips to Europe and North America, which provided inspiration through visits to galleries and museums, and gave her an understanding of the international lifestyle of many women of her class. The need of these women to be dressed stylishly and appropriately for diverse events from tennis matches to cocktail parties or office work in a city shaped Herrera’s outlook, as much as her appreciation of art and culture....


Malfatti, Anita  

Susan Fisher Sterling

(b São Paulo, Dec 2, 1896; d São Paulo, Nov 6, 1964).

Brazilian painter. Malfatti is acknowledged as the artist who brought European and American modernism to Brazil in 1917 and was a key figure in the Semana de Arte Moderna in São Paulo in 1922. The daughter of immigrants—her father was an Italian engineer and her mother was of German descent—Malfatti first studied at Mackenzie College in São Paulo before leaving for Berlin in 1912, where she learned about German Expressionism from Lovis Corinth and Bischoff Culn at the Lewin Funcke Academy while also attending the influential fourth international Sonderbund exhibition of modern art in Cologne. Although she returned to Brazil in 1914, she left once again for New York in 1915, where she studied at the Independent School of Art with Homer Boss (1882–1956) until May 1916. Boss was extremely important in encouraging Malfatti’s early experimentation with Expressionism, resulting in important works such as O Farol (“The Lighthouse,” ...


Víctor Manuel  

Giulio V. Blanc


(b Havana, Oct 31, 1897; d Havana, Feb 1, 1969).

Cuban painter and teacher. He is generally considered to be the initiator of modernism in Cuba. From 1910 he studied at the Academia de San Alejandro in Havana and taught elementary drawing there until 1925, when he went to Paris. There he formed part of the Latin American artistic and literary Grupo de Montparnasse and abandoned academic painting. On his return to Cuba in 1927 he participated in the Asociación de Pintores y Escultores exhibition in Havana, which marked the official beginning of modern painting in Cuba. As a teacher and avant-garde painter he had a considerable influence on painters of his own and succeeding generations.

Víctor Manuel reconciled Parisian modernism with traditional Cuban themes and elements in order to create works that were at once culturally specific and cosmopolitan. Tropical Gypsy (1927; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.) is his best-known painting, referring to Gauguin and modern European art while seeking to portray a national icon, the ...


Martínez Gutierrez, Juan  

Ramón Alfonso Méndez Brignardello

(b Bilbao, 1901; d Chile, 1976).

Chilean architect and teacher of Spanish birth. He moved to Chile as a child and studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile in Santiago from 1917 to 1922. In 1927 he won the first architectural competition to be organized in Chile, for the Chilean Pavilion at the Exposición Ibero-Americana 1929. He visited Europe in 1928–1931 and absorbed the influence of Rationalism, the Bauhaus, and other modern developments. In 1931 he became Profesor de Taller (workshop teacher) at the Escuela de Arquitectura of the Universidad de Chile. He became its director in 1932 and reformed the teaching program. In 1936 he won a competition for the Escuela de Derecho building (completed 1938) in the Universidad de Chile. Equal to the best architecture of its time worldwide, the building is Rationalist with expressionistic elements in the main curved façade and well-articulated south elevation. After such projects as the Escuela Militar in Santiago (...


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....


Moreira, Jorge  

Carlos A. C. Lemos

revised by Mariana von Hartenthal


(b Paris, Feb 23, 1904; d Rio de Janeiro, Nov 17, 1992).

Brazilian architect and teacher. He graduated in 1932 from the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, where he participated in the reforms (1930–1931) spearheaded by Lucio Costa, when Modernist architects such as Gregori Warchavchik were introduced as professors. He then worked for a construction company in Rio and designed houses and apartment blocks. In 1936 Moreira started a private practice and joined the team that developed the design for the Ministry of Education and Health (1936–1945; now the Palácio da Cultura; see Brazil, fig.) in Rio de Janeiro. Led by Lucio Costa, it included Le Corbusier, Carlos Leão (1906–1983), Affonso Eduardo Reidy, Ernani Vasconcelos (1912–1987), and Oscar Niemeyer. This building introduced Le Corbusier’s rationalist principles of Modernism to Brazil, influencing the work of a generation of young architects. Moreira, however, was among the only ones who did not subsequently move away from Le Corbusier’s original postulates, becoming perhaps his most representative exponent in Brazil. He continued to use simple, prismatic shapes, never accepting the free structural forms developed by Oscar Niemeyer at Pampulha (...


Niemeyer (Soares Filho), Oscar  

Julio Roberto Katinsky

revised by Adrian Anagnost

(b Rio de Janeiro, Dec 15, 1907; d Rio de Janeiro, Dec 5, 2012).

Brazilian architect. He developed an expressive and sometimes controversial style in a large volume of architectural work executed in Brazil and internationally from 1935 though the 1990s. Best known for the iconic, monumental buildings he designed for Brazil’s capital, Brasília (1956–1960), he sculpted reinforced concrete into dramatic curves, creating a uniquely Brazilian take on Modernist architecture.

He studied architecture at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro (1929–1934), where he was influenced by the Modernist teaching introduced by Lúcio Costa during his reforms in 1930–1931. After graduating, Niemeyer worked in the studio of Costa and Carlos Azevedo Leão (1906–1971) and later, for a short period, in the government’s preservationist agency Serviço do Patrimônio Histórico e Artístico Nacional (SPHAN), also with Costa; the latter’s valorization of Portuguese colonial architecture as a source for Brazilian Modernism was an early influence on Niemeyer. In 1936...


O’Gorman, Juan  

Louise Noelle

(b Mexico City, Jul 6, 1905; d Mexico City, Jan 18, 1982).

Mexican architect, painter, and teacher. He studied architecture at the Universidad Nacional de México and qualified as an architect in December 1935. Among his teachers were José Villagrán and Guillermo Zárraga, the latter of whom in particular exerted a powerful rationalist influence on O’Gorman’s early development. This influence was further strengthened in 1924, when O’Gorman discovered the writings of Le Corbusier. His subsequent membership of the Communist Party cemented his adherence to a functionalist tendency and resulted in designs for a number of houses executed in an austere, almost featureless style that nevertheless remained faithful to Le Corbusier’s ideas on plasticity. These included the Casa Cecil O’Gorman (1929), the Casa y Estudio Diego Rivera y Frida Kahlo, built for the artists in 1930–1932; and his own house (1931–1932), all in the residential district of San Ángel in Mexico City.

The innovative approach taken in these works provoked considerable adverse comment, but it impressed ...


Ponce de León, Fidelio  

Ricardo Pau-Llosa

(b Camagüey, Jan 24, 1895; d Havana, Feb 19, 1949).

Cuban painter and draughtsman. He studied briefly at the Academia de S Alejandro in Havana under Leopoldo Romañach (1862–1951) and became a notable figure in Cuba’s first generation of modernists, who broke with the 19th-century academic style during the 1920s in a search for a national identity. His monochromatic paintings, dominated by white and ochre, are the least Cuban in subject-matter of the work produced by this generation, although ironically he was the only one who never left Cuba.

Ponce de León worked primarily in oil on canvas but also made pencil drawings and pastels. He led a bohemian life racked by alcoholism and poverty, dying of tuberculosis. His principal subject-matter was the figure, but he painted some landscapes bordering on pure abstraction, for example Fish and Landscape (Havana, Mus. N. B.A.). His paintings are melancholic, as, for example, the figure painting Tuberculosis (1934; Havana, Mus. N. B.A.), and embody a Cuban fatalism, which is often eclipsed by the sensuous clichés of the tropics. Ponce de León was the founder of ...


Roberto, M. M. M.  

Sylvia Ficher and João Masao Kamita

Brazilian architectural partnership. It was formed by three brothers, Marcelo Roberto (b Rio de Janeiro, May 30, 1908; d Rio de Janeiro, Jul 17, 1964), Milton Roberto (b Rio de Janeiro, Mar 30, 1914; d Rio de Janeiro, Jul 11, 1953), and Maurício Roberto (b Rio de Janeiro, Feb 20, 1921; d Rio de Janeiro, Nov 3, 1997). All three went to the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (ENBA), Rio de Janeiro, but at different moments, thus each received differing orientations in their architectural education. Marcelo followed a Beaux-Arts course; Milton was a student at the time of its reform of 1930–1931 under the directorship of Lucio Costa (1902–1998), carried out by Modernist professors Gregori Warchavchik (1896–1972) and Alexander Buddeüs, that introduced avant-garde European principles. At Maurício’s time, the ENBA had returned to an academic program, however, under strong criticism from the professional milieu....


Semana de Arte Moderna  

Roberto Pontual

Series of events held at the Teatro Municipal in São Paulo from February 11 to 18, 1922, which marked the arrival of modernism in Brazil. The year 1922 was the centenary of Brazilian independence and a time of economic prosperity centered in São Paulo. The Semana marked the cultural emergence of a Brazilian bourgeoisie, with financial support from enlightened businessmen and politicians such as Paulo Prado, Oscar Rodrigues Alves, and Alberto Penteado. The antecedents of the Semana date back to a startling exhibition of works by the São Paulo painter Anita Malfatti (1896–1964), held in São Paulo in December 1917. She had studied in Berlin and New York between 1914 and 1916, and her paintings were practically the first examples of Expressionism to be seen in Brazil, provoking the initial break with weak academic traditions inherited from the 19th century. Inspired by the polemical slogans if not by the art of Marinetti’s Futurism, the scandalous Semana of ...


Valentim, Rubem  

Julián Sánchez González

(b Salvador, Bahia, Nov 9, 1922; d São Paulo, Nov 30, 1991).

Brazilian draftsman, painter, sculptor, engraver, and teacher. After completing a degree in dentistry from the Federal University of Bahia in 1946 he started his career as a self-taught painter guided by Brazilian artists Arthur Come-Só and Aldo Bonadei (1906–1974). Years later, in 1953, he finished a second degree in journalism from the same institution and won recognition for his artistic work in the 1955 Bahian Salon of Fine Arts. In 1957 Valentim relocated to Rio de Janeiro and notably incorporated in his art the influence of the Concrete movement of geometric abstraction, particularly through his contacts with artist Ivan Serpa and art critic Mário Pedrosa. These years proved transformative for Valentim, as he developed his signature visual language combining geometric forms and sacred imagery from Candomblé. Taking roots in northeastern Brazil, this Yoruba-based religion, much like Haitian Voudou and Cuban Santería, migrated from West Africa to the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade. Being from Salvador de Bahia, also known as Brazil’s mecca for black arts and culture, Valentim’s contacts with Candomblé taught him the syncretic popular iconography used for representing its deities, or ...


Vilar, Antonio Ubaldo  

Ludovico C. Koppmann

(b La Plata, May 16, 1889; d Buenos Aires, Apr 7, 1966).

Argentine engineer and architect. He graduated as a civil engineer from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1914 and then worked for an oil company in Patagonia (1918–1920) and, throughout the 1920s, as a land surveyor. He helped with the studies for Le Corbusier’s master-plan Les Grands Travaux de Buenos Aires (1929; unexecuted). Vilar subsequently established a large practice in collaboration with his brother Carlos Vilar, and he was among the early proponents of Rationalism and internationalism in Argentina. His early works include a minimal housing system first used at the former premises of the Hindu Club (1931; destr.) at Don Torcuato in Buenos Aires province; several large blocks of flats, such as those for the Nordiska Kompaniet (1935; altered) and those on the Avenida Libertador (1935), both in Buenos Aires; the Banco Holandés Unido (1935; altered), Buenos Aires; and a series of private houses at San Isidro, the most notable (...


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....