Bodies, nature and city: all at the MASP

Tuesday was free admission day at the MASP, Museum of Art, São Paulo. This is what it looked like:


According to its website, the MASP is considered the most important western art museum in the southern hemisphere due to the size of its archives. The museum also offers art courses, an art studio for children and a library. It currently houses five exhibitions: Lucian Freud — Bodies and Faces, Form Follows Obsession, Foreign Papers Prints, Gods and Madonnas — Sacred Art, and Romanticism — The Art of Enthusiasm.


I think my favorite was the Lucian Freud exhibit, a series of drawings that depicted people and occasionally his dog Pluto. Apparently he required a great time commitment from his subjects, even when painting the background,  because he believed “the actual presence of the model…alters everything in the picture.” (The Telegraph) He didn’t simply paint them, but rather built a rapport with his models to get a sense of their energy and spirit. One model posed seven nights a week for sixteen months to complete a single portrait.

Girl With Fig Leaf, 1948

Girl With Fig Leaf, 1948

Besides Freud’s drawings, the exhibit also featured photography by David Dawson, who shot Freud in his studio with his subjects. It was interesting to see the art process documented, with the person (or animal) alongside their rendition. Dawson actually visited the MASP last month to talk about his work as assistant and official photographer to Freud.

David Dawson

David Dawson

Romanticism — The Art of Enthusiasm, demonstrates the influence the movement’s celebration of nature, the body, the passions, the cityscape and the imaginary, with works by Degas, Monet, Renoir, Matisse and more. One interesting quote depicts the shift of interest from nature to the city, and lead me to think of São Paulo:

Little by little, the city appears at the horizon of Romanticism. The city glimpsed far away, a city that barely disengages itself from nature; or at the city, each time closer to the observer , as a privileged trail of artifice, that is of culture. In the city, there can be found a miniature of nature, the nature under control (a water fountain, a stone bench). But in the city, artifice grows. A different idea of the infinite, of the communion with the world will have to be looked for. The other and the different that can be found at hand, without the need to travel, become the new scenario of modernity.



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