Italy and Brasília, the “New City, Synthesis of the Arts”: the Italian art critics at the Extraordinary International Congress of Art Critics of 1959

Marina Barzon, M.A.

The Extraordinary International Congress of Art Critics of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) took place between September 17 and September 25, 1959. It was the first ever AICA congress held on the American continent. It took place in São Paulo (which also hosted the V São Paulo Biennale from September through December of that year), Rio de Janeiro, the soon to be former capital of the country, and Brasília, the city at the centre of the conference’s theme: “The New City, Synthesis of the Arts”. Partially financed and organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil (Itamaraty), the congress was understood by Brazilian power as an opportunity to project and advertise the new capital, an event at the new city that would help to legitimize the monumental task that Brazil’s president, Jucelino Kubitschek, had undertaken with its construction. Among the participants were Giulio Carlo Argan, Bruno Zevi, Gillo Dorfles, Giulio Pizzetti, Michelangelo Muraro and Angelo Sartoris. The Italian branch of AICA was represented by Palma Bucarelli, Piero Dorazio and Gio Ponti, whose contributions reported in the Brazilian press by important figures in Brazilian art criticism like Mário Pedrosa.
This project analyzes the Italian contribution to the theme of Brasília both during and after the event and seeks to understand the soft power exchanges between the Brazilian government and AICA (a UNESCO organization) and its international impacts. This research also sheds new light on how Italian thinkers were received and understood in Brazil – a subject that remains mostly untapped in the historiography, and one that tells us as much about Italy during the period as it does about Brazilian modernism.

Zur Redakteursansicht