Join our clube! Brazil’s secret photography auteurs – in pictures

The Guardian - Wed Sep 15 06:00

  • Filigree (Filigrana), 1953

    The members of São Paulo’s Foto-Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), established in 1939, were doctors and lawyers, civil servants and businessmen, accountants and students. Fotoclubismo: Brazilian Modernist Photography, 1946–1964 is at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, until 26 September

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Gertrudes Altschul

    Filigree (Filigrana). 1953
  • Apartments (Apartamentos), 1950–51

    Bandeirante alludes to a colonial-era group of explorers and fortune hunters based in the São Paulo region, whom the FCCB celebrated for their pioneering spirit, overlooking their role in the enslavement of Indigenous people and the expansion of territory under Portuguese control

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/German Lorca

    Apartments (Apartamentos). 1950–51
  • The Broken Glass (O vidro partido), 1952

    Though its identity was firmly anchored in the local, the club was an integral part of a dynamic international network of amateurs: the FCCB was widely heralded and its members’ work awarded prizes in salons on six continents

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Estate of Maria Helena Valente da Cruz

    The Broken Glass (O vidro partido). c. 1952
  • Rails (Trilhos), 1951

    While photography was an activity pursued outside their day jobs, FCCB members were nonetheless quite serious about their artistic ambition, as evidenced by the striking innovation of their photographs

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Estate of André Carneiro

    Rails (Trilhos). 1951
  • Fluorescent Symphony (Sinfonia fluorescente), 1953

    The club’s position in the Global South, and a bias against amateur work, explains its absence from international histories of photography

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Lucílio Corrêa Leite Filho

    Fluorescent Symphony (Sinfonia fluorescente). 1953
  • Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação), Rio de Janeiro, 1945

    Works such as Thomaz Farkas’s Ministry of Education, for example, represent a few of their radical experimentats with process and form and underscore the discovery of imaginative compositions in everyday life

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Thomaz Farkas Estate

    Ministry of Education (Ministério da Educação) [Rio de Janeiro]. c. 1945
  • Divergent (Divergente), 1949

    FCCB members responded to the abundant originality of contemporary Brazilian architects, and their attentiveness to the fertility of abstraction as a creative strategy emerged alongside peers in design, painting and literature

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Gaspar Gasparian

    Divergent (Divergente). 1949
  • Fotoforma, 1952-53

    Beyond creating photographs, a critical aspect of the club’s activity were their monthly concursos internos (internal contests) and seminarios, in which photographs were discussed in public and private forums

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/© 2020 Arquivo Geraldo de Barros. Courtesy Luciana Brito Galeria

    Fotoforma. 1952-53
  • Circus (Circense), 1951

    As with most amateur photography clubs around the world, the FCCB fostered a collegial environment that tolerated a wide range of artistic approaches

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Estate of Julio Agostinelli

    Circus (Circense). 1951
  • Lines and Tones (Linhas e tons), 1953

    Yet it was also a competitive one, where critical judgment and artistic ambition were central to the club’s identity – and contributed to the enduring quality of the work

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Gertrudes Altschul

    Lines and Tones (Linhas e tons). 1953
  • Vertigo (Vertigem), 1949

    The dates that bracket this exhibition correspond to artistic and political realities in Brazil: the FCCB first published its monthly magazine (the Boletim foto-cine) in 1946, the year a new constitution restored democracy following a repressive regime

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Estate of Aldo Augusto de Souza Lima

    Vertigo (Vertigem). 1949
  • Untitled, 1960

    At the other end, 1964 marked the beginning of a brutal dictatorship, which contributed to the closing of an extraordinarily fertile chapter for photography in Brazil – one that has been, until now, largely overlooked beyond the country’s borders

    Photograph: The Museum of Modern Art, New York/2020 Estate of Palmira Puig-Giró

    Untitled. c. 1960