São Paulo’s art museums: MAC-USP

The city of São Paulo has a huge number of art museums and art installations. In part this is because Brazil has many artists of all types. The first art museum we visited was MAC-USP (Museum of Contemporary Art – University of São Paulo), adjacent to Ibirapuera Park in the Vila Mariana district.

On November 18, 2016 we walked from our lodgings to Ibirapuera Park, and stopped to have a look at MAC-USP on the way.  The museum has several stories, and we had to choose only two or three exhibits to visit, but there is much more to this museum than I cover here.

The museum was free and I picked up an arts map, which later turned out to be very useful for getting our bearings in the park as well as on other days.  Dale had to leave his backpack in the coat-bag check, and water wasn’t allowed either.  So we went through the museum without our water bottles and cameras.  We took pictures without flash, which was allowed, with our cell phones.

There were some interesting sculptures on the ground floor,

Maria Martins (1900-1973),
Maria Martins (Brazilian, 1900-1973); “A Soma dos Nossos Dias” (The Sum of Our Days) 1954/55
Angelo Venosa, Untitled 1987; fiberglass
Angelo Venosa, “Untitled”, 1987; fiberglass
Grande Cavalo (1951) by Marino Marini; bronze
Marino Marini (Italian, 1901-1980); “Grande Cavalo” (Large Horse) 1951; bronze

including one we were allowed to touch: a giant cat!  It is soft to the touch (which we were allowed to do) and supposedly also purrs, although we didn’t hear it!

Nina Pandolfo, “Um Amor sem Igual” (A Love without Equal), 2011

On the 4th floor, we saw an exhibit was of modern Latin American artists, entitled Vizinhos Distantes (Distant Neighbors). Many of these contained political and social commentary. Much of Latin America was ruled by right-wing dictatorships in the 1960s and 1970s.

Sergio Meirana,
Sergio Meirana (Uruguay, 1966- ), “Superficie da Memoria” (Surface of Memory), 2008
Leon Ferrari,
Leon Ferrari (Argentina, 1920-2013), “Releitura da Biblia” (Rereading the Bible), 1986/87
Leon Ferrari (B.A., Argentina 1920-2013),
Leon Ferrari, “Autopista do Sul” (Southern Expressway), 1981
Alfredo Portillos,
Alfredo Portillos, “Caixas com Sabonetes para Classes Sociais Distintas” (Boxes of soap for different social classes), 1975

The other exhibit we visited on the 4th floor was called A Casa, inspired by the Vinicius de Moraes poem and song, which I immediately began singing to myself:

20161118_114203Era uma casa
Muito engraçada
Não tinha teto
Não tinha nada.

 Ninguém podia entrar nela, não
Porque a casa não tinha chão
Ninguém podia dormir na rede
Porque a casa não tinha parede
Ninguem podia fazer xi-xi
Porque pinico não tinha ali.

Mas era feita com muito esmero
Na Rua dos Bobos, No. 0
Mas era feita com muito esmero
Na Rua dos Bobos, No. 0

(English rough translation: There was a very funny house/It had no roof or anything/No one could go inside because the house had no floor/No one could sleep in a hammock/Because there were no walls/No one could go pee-pee/Because there was no toilet./But it was made with a lot of care/On Fools Street, No. 0).

This exhibit displayed artistic works having to do with the home.

Alexander Calder, “Grande Mobile Branco” (Large White Mobile), 1948; and Jose Carratu “A Mala” (The Suitcase), 1986/87
Alex Vallauri, Untitled, 1985
Alex Vallauri, “Untitled”, 1985



Alex Flemming, Cordeiro de Deus 1991
Alex Flemming, “Cordeiro de Deus” (Lamb of God), 1991
Flavio Cerqueira (Brazilian, 1983- ), “Foi assim que me ensinaram” (That’s how I was taught), 2011
Leda Catunda, Onca pintada No. 1 1984
Leda Catunda (Brazilian, 1961-), “Onca pintada no. 1” (Jaguar No. 1), 1984; acrylic on blanket

Finally, we went up to the roof where we had a panoramic view of the city. What impressed me most was the unbroken line of skyscrapers in every direction – conveying the immensity of this city!




My husband made this video – but turn down the volume because there’s a very irritating background sound, probably due to the wind up there!


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