Modernisms News III: Hosting a Modern Collection in a Modernist Monument

By Renan Varolli

Academy participants and steerig group

Academy participants and steerig group. Photo: DFK, Paris / Unifesp, São Paulo under CC BY SA 4.0

The fifth day of the Transregional Academy “Modernisms” included an afternoon excursion to the Contemporary Art Museum of the University of São Paulo (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo – MAC-USP), where one member of the Modernisms’ steering group, Professor Ana Magalhães, is based and works as a curator. The visit was planned by herself and began on the rooftop taking advantage of the panoramic view from the eighth floor of the Oscar Niemeyer building. As Professor Ana Magalhães pointed out that her choice was not only justified by the overall nice view, but also because one could see how Niemeyer’s project was deeply intertwined with the design of the Ibirapuera Park.


View from the Oscar Niemeyer building. Photo: DFK, Paris / Unifesp, São Paulo under CC BY SA 4.0

In fact, it was part of an urban plan already introduced in the course of Pedro Álvares Cabral Avenue and the Monument to the Bandeiras, an Art Déco masterpiece designed by Victor Brecheret in 1921 for Modern Art Week in 1922, but erected not until 1953/54 during the city of São Paulo’s centennial celebrations and Ibirapuera Park’s construction. Although having a sexagenarian story, MAC-USP’s collection was transferred to its current also sexagenarian building only in the 2010s. Professor Ana Magalhães highlighted the renovation process of the building that formerly has held a public institution, the Department of Traffic, for decades.


Academy participants visiting the exhibition “Visões da Arte no acervo do MAC USP 1900-2000” (Visions of Art in MAC USP’s collection 1900-2000). Photo: Photo: DFK, Paris / Unifesp, São Paulo under CC BY SA 4.0

As the final point of the excursion, the Modernisms group went down to Visões da Arte no acervo do MAC USP 1900-2000 (Visions of Art in MAC USP’s collection 1900-2000) exhibition and could learn about curatorial changes and the challenges that the curatorial team is facing by hosting a modern collection in a modernist monument.

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