Mário Pedrosa

Primary Documents

Mário Pedrosa

MoMA Primary Documents

More about this series

Book Pages: 464 Illustrations: 72 illustrations, incl. 32 in Published: December 2015

Art and Visual Culture > Art Criticism and Theory, Latin American Studies

This latest volume in MoMA's Primary Documents series provides an anthology of the writings of Mário Pedrosa, Brazil's preeminent critic of art, culture, and politics and one of Latin America's most frequently cited public intellectuals. It is the first publication to provide comprehensive English translations of Pedrosa's writings, which are indispensable to understanding Brazilian art of the twentieth century. Included texts range from art and architectural criticism and theory to political writings as well as correspondence with his artistic and political interlocutors, among them such luminaries as André Breton, Alexander Calder, Lygia Clark, Ferreira Gullar, Oscar Niemeyer, Hélio Oiticica, Pablo Picasso, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Harald Szeeman, and Leon Trotsky. The book also features newly-commissioned essays by important scholars in the field that contextualize central themes of Pedrosa's writing and frame the importance of his thought for twentieth-century Brazilian art as well as the history of modernism writ large. These new translations will contribute to the international recognition of Mário Pedrosa's importance to the growing fields of global art history and theory.
Publication of The Museum of Modern Art
MoMA Primary Documents
Contributors: Aracy Amaral, Otília Arantes, Dore Ashton, Catherine Bompuis, Kaira Cabañas, Lauro Cavalcanti, Marcio Doctors, Gloria Ferreira, Adele Nelson


"Informative brief essays by critics and scholars, including some who knew and collaborated with Pedrosa, introduce the volume as a whole and preface each of the eight sections. Pedrosa’s life and career are detailed in a chronology created by his grandson. This long-overdue volume makes an important contribution to the literature of modernism. Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals." — E. Douglas, Choice

"[T]his volume of the writings of Brazilian arts scholars Mário Pedrosa (1900–81) is indeed a welcome event. Pedrosa is considered to be a key figure in the criticism of contemporary Brazilian art, the sort of intellectual presence who both defines the parameters of the subject and establishes major theoretical foundations." — David William Foster, Hispania

"This essential and third anthology focusing on Latin America renewed my admiration for Pedrosa’s extraordinary critical legacy. It further explained his life’s commitment to both artistic and political revolutions.... The illustrations ... add significant visual and historical dimensions to this anthology." — Simone Osthoff, Luso-Brazilian Review

“Mário Pedrosa was one of the twentieth century’s foremost  art critics, philosophers, historians, and museum directors. His writings fashioned many of the principal directions of Brazilian visual cultures throughout the 1940s and beyond—a critical time of change from the modes of modernism and social realism into the era of Constructivism, Conceptualism, and other avant-garde trends. Until now, his work was almost exclusively known to readers of his native language, Portuguese. This book, with its thoughtful English translations, is a landmark in modern art history and provides a window into the highly original perceptions and opinions of an extraordinary thinker.” — Edward J. Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art, Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Science, New York University

“Expertly edited and superbly translated, this long-awaited anthology of the writings of one of the most important art critics of the mid-twentieth century is certain to transform  the study of Latin American art in very significant ways.” — Alexander Alberro, Virginia Bloedel Wright Professor of Art History, Barnard College/Columbia University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Gloria Ferreira is an art critic based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Paulo Herkenhoff is an art critic, curator, and cultural director of the Museum of Art of Rio – MAR.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Glenn D. Lowry  9
Acknowledgments / Jay A. Levenson and Sara Lookofsky  11
The Permanent Revolution of the Critic / Gloria Ferreira  14
A Strategic Universalist / Kaira M. Cabañas  23
Radical and Inclusive: Mário Pedrosa's Modernism / Adele Nelson  35
Naturally Modern: Mário Pedrosa and Architectural Criticism / Lauro Cavalcanti  43
A Revolution of Sensitivity / Catherine Bompuis  52
Mário Pedrosa's Somersault / Marcio Doctors  58
The Critical Exercise of Freedom (2013) / Dore Ashton  62
Mário Pedrosa: A Man without a Price (2001) / Aracy Amarai  65
Mário Pedrosa Today (2000) / Otilla Beatruz Fiori Arantes  68
Plates  73
Primary Documents
Translator's Notes / Stephen Berg  98
1. Theoretical and Aesthetic Speculations  101
Introduction / Gloria Ferreira  102
2. Cultural Politics and the Art System  139
Introduction / Izabela Pucu  140
3. History of Criticism  175
Introduction / Rodrigo Krul  176
4. Criticism of Criticism  203
Introduction / Izabela Pucu  204
5. Art Criticism  227
Introduction / Rodrigo Krul  228
6. Architectural Criticism  337
Introduction / Lauro Cavalcanti  338
7. A Singular Socialist  375
Introduction / Gloria Ferreira  376
8. Correspondence  403
Introduction / Isabela Pucu  404
References  439
Chronoology / Quito Pedrosa  440
Contributors  450
Index  453
Trustees of The Museum of Modern Art  464
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-87070-911-1
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