Bienal de São Paulo

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Bienal de São Paulo

Bienal de São Paulo, an international art exhibition held in São Paulo every two years. Inaugurated in 1951, the first Bienal de São Paulo was organized by Laurival Gomes Machado, the director of the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, and Sérgio Milliet, art critic. The model they envisioned for São Paulo resembled that established for the Venice Biennale: to stimulate artistic production and creativity, provide international exposure for young artists, and enable artists to compete internationally and be judged by an international committee. Locally, it contributed to ending Brazil's artistic and cultural isolation while exposing Brazilians, and specifically Brazilian artists, to the major international artistic movements of the twentieth century.

In the first São Paulo Bienal, artists from nineteen countries exhibited 1,800 works of art. Little-known Brazilian artists such as Lasar Segall, Cândido Portinari, Di Cavalcanti, and Vítor Brecheret had the opportunity to exhibit alongside such internationally established artists as Picasso and Léger. By the second Bienal in 1953, artists from forty countries participated. Di Cavalcanti received a best-painter prize, while Eliseu Visconti was allocated a special room to exhibit his works. Over the years, critics claim, however, that rather than opening the door to new aesthetic experimentation, the bienals have become institutionalized and have restricted creativity.

See alsoArt: The Twentieth Century .


Mario Pedrosa, "A bienal de ca' para lá," in Arte Brasileira Hoje, edited by Ferreira Gullar (1973); Arte no Brasil, vol. 2 (1979), pp. 897-899.

Additional Bibliography

Alambert, Francisco, and Polyana Canhête. As Bienais de São Paulo: Da era do Museu à era dos curadores (1951–2001). São Paulo: Boitempo, 2004.

Matarazzo Sobrinho, Francisco, and Agnaldo Farias. Bienal de São Paulo, 50 anos, 1951–2001= 50 years of the São Paulo Biennial: Homenagem a Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho. São Paulo: Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, 2001.

                                  Caren A. Meghreblian