Fire Destroys More Than 1,000 Helio Oiticica Works


Photo: O Globo

O Globo’s Eduardo Fradkin reports that more than a thousand works by Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica (1937–1980) were destroyed Friday in a fire at the house of his brother, César Oiticica, in Rio de Janeiro. His brother was responsible for the artist’s collection; he estimates that 90 percent of the collection he held was lost. In 2007, the Tate Modern and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston staged major exhibitions of Oiticica’s work. The fire also destroyed all the pictures and film negatives in the house made by José Oiticica, Helio and César’s father and an important Brazilian photographer.

From Wikipedia
On October 16, 2009, a fire destroyed about two thousand works by the artist – about 90% of the whole collection that was held at the residence of his brother César Oiticica in the neighborhood of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. In addition to paintings and the famous “Parangoles”, the artist’s archive material including drawings, notes, documentaries and books were stored in the collection. “I wanted to die together with the works. After the death of Hélio in 1980, I was responsible for the collection. It is very sad! I have no doubt, the only victim of this terrible fire was the Brazilian Culture,” said Cesar Oiticica. The fire took three hours to bring under control. Key works such as Bólides and Parangolés, including some shown at the 2007 Tate retrospective, were lost. The cause of the fire is unknown. The building was equipped with fire alarms and other safety systems. Brazilian Tourism Minister, Jandira Feghali, called for an investigation into the causes of the fire and whether any works can be recovered. The works were stored in Cesar Oiticica’s house following a dispute over money and the adequacy of storage facilities at the Centro Municipal de Arte Hélio Oiticica. The works were uninsured due to the cost. Cesar Oiticica later discussed the possibility of reconstructing some of the works but ruled out reconstruction of the Parangolés.

From O Globo (translated using Google Translate)
RIO – A fire at the family home of artist, painter and sculptor Helio Oiticica late on this Friday, the Botanical Garden, South Zone, destroyed 90% of the collection of works of art from the artist, one of the founders of the movement neoconcretist. According to the architect Cesar Oiticica, 70, brother of Helio, about two thousand pieces of the artist, who died in the 1980s, were burned, a loss estimated at U.S. $ 200 million. No one was injured, but the cause of the fire are still unknown.

Municipal Secretary of Culture, Jandira Feghali, laments the destruction of works. According to Caesar, the fire started around 22h. He said he dined with woman and a group of friends when he felt a strong smell of burning. Fire Humaitá the barracks were called to extinguish the flames. Shaken, Caesar said that 90% of the collection of the brother – estimated at 200 million dollars – was destroyed by fire.

What is the justification that we find a tragedy like this? Regretted architect. It was the greatest tragedy that could happen to the Brazilian culture. Without doubt, the only victim of this tragedy was the Brazilian culture.

The architect, however, ruled out an arson. According César Oiticica, the studio had control of humidity and temperature maintenance works, and present alarms and anti-fire. Lieutenant Corps
Yuri Manso Firefighters said the flames consumed the works quickly. Also according to the official, only a technical opinion is that you can discover the cause of the fire.

According to César Oiticica, the works were destroyed by fire tables documentaries and books. Works established as Bólides and Parangolés – the first manifestation environmental conference involving covers, tents, banners and Mangueira samba dancers, the show Opinion 65 – were also destroyed. Only saved the jobs that were stored on CDs and computer in the house. All photographic collection of the artist’s father, the renowned José Oiticica Filho, also would have been lost in the fire.

Considered one of the most revolutionary artists of his time, Hélio Oiticica born in Rio de Janeiro in July 1937. He died in March 1980, after suffer a stroke. Along with names like Lygia Clark, Amilcar de Castro and Ferreira Gullar, Helio neoconcretist participated in the movement and had works exhibited in internationally.

Among his best known works are the Parangolés (sort of covers colorful art to be worn) and penetrable (facilities). He is the author of the known phrase “Seja marginal, be a hero,” he wrote in a banner over a picture of a dealer killed a newspaper published in Rio in 1968 during the dictatorship, and was a major underlying the Tropicalia movement with his work “Tropicalia.”

The artist lived in New From 1970 to 1978, Oiticica lived in New York, where Information participated in the fair, held at MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).  In 1981, a year after his death – on March 22, 1980 – was created in Rio de January Project Hélio Oiticica, to preserve the artist’s work. The Secretariat City of Culture created the River Arts Center Hélio Oiticica in 1996.

For the director of the Bolsa de Arte do Rio de Janeiro, Jones Bergamin, the greatest legacy of
Oiticica were his projects and notes. – The problem is that his works are scattered in private collections and museums around the world, but their designs were all here. The artistic value is much larger than the financial. It is an incalculable loss – said in Bergamin interview Globonews.