Amilcar de Castro (1920 - 2002)


    Amilcar de Castro holds an important position in the history of Brazilian art of the post-WWII period. He studied with Alberto da Veiga Guignard and Franz Weissmann during the 1940s, and became an advocate of concrete art at the beginning of the next decade. His enthusiasm for this movement followed Swiss Concretist Max Bill's 1950 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo, and the influential event of Bill's sculpture Tripartite Unity winning first prize at the first Bienal Internacional de São Paulo (1951).

    His first concrete art-inspired piece was a construction formed by folded copper plates, which (as he has said) informed all of his subsequent production. For the poet and critic Ferreira Gullar, Castro's originality arose from the fact that - at that time - it was technically impossible to produce a work such as Bill's Tripartite Unity in Brazil. De Castro therefore opted for the simplicity of means that has since characterised his work. Ironically, during his 1970s residency in New York, he was obliged to produce stainless steel sculptures because it was impossible to manufacture his folded-iron work there. This steel series stands as an isolated aesthetic experiment, not following any previous line nor leading to further work upon the artist's return to Brazil.

    De Castro was a founding member of the Neoconcrete movement. Known essentially for his sculpture, he also played an important role as a graphic designer. His collaboration with Reynaldo Jardim led to the radical transformation of the layout of the Weekend Supplement of the Jornal do Brasil; following this intervention in the late 50s the supplement became the central arena for theoretical and philosophical debate about abstract, concrete and eventually neoconcrete art.
    De Castro's long career was marked by various important exhibitions including the first Neoconcrete exhibition at the Museum of Modern art Rio de Janeiro (1959) and the International Concrete Art exhibition organised by Max Bill in Zurich (1960). He won the foreign travel award at the National Modern Art Salon (1967) and received a Guggenheim Foundation Scholarship (1968-69). In 1973 he became professor at the Guignard School of Art, progressing to become director and only retiring in 1990. In 1989 the Paço Imperial in Rio de Janeiro organised a retrospective of his work. Castro died in 2003 aged 83.

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