Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil: The Adolpho Leirner Collection, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, Switzerland


Helio Oiticica
Vermelho cortando o branco, 1958
Oil on canvas, 52 x 60 cm
The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art
at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston & Projeto Helio Oiticica

November 19, 2009 – February 21, 2010

Haus Konstruktiv completes its exhibition programme for 2009 with the presentation of one of the most significant collections of Brazilian Concrete-Constructive art: “Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil” showcases for the first time in Europe “The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston”. Although individual works from Mr. Adolpho Leirner (born, 1935 in São Paulo) have been shown frequently in the past years, this will be the first time the entire Adolpho Leirner collection is exhibited outside of Brazil or the United States. The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the MFAH, which owns the Adolpho Leirner collection since 2007.

The Leirner Collection comprehensively documents how starting in the early 1950s, artists from the Brazilian avant-garde assimilated and contested the tenets of international Con-structivism, developing a unique Concrete-Constructive art. “Collecting is like a love affair. It means making discoveries in a huge game of hide-and-seek. Each and every one of these discoveries represents an important part of my life,” says the passionate collector Leirner. Painstakingly assembled since the late 1950s, the collection includes works that trace the beginnings of non-figurative art by artists such as Cícero Dias (1907–2003) and Samson Flexor (1907–1971), as well as works by members of “Grupo ruptura”, “Grupo frente” and Neo-Concretismo in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively. The latter of which include such artists as Lygia Clark (1920–1988) and Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), rediscovered in recent years by the international art world and honoured with large solo exhibitions.

“Dimensions of Constructive Art in Brazil” will enable a broad public to gain fascinating and informative insights into the development of Concrete-Constructive art in Brazil, while sim-ultaneously revealing so far little-known cross-connections and artistic dialogues with Swiss concrete art.

The exhibition directly ties in with Haus Konstruktiv’s incorporation of art history initiated with the grand jubilee exhibition “max bill 100” (winter 2008/09): the reconstruction of the first Bill retrospective from 1951 in São Paulo already showed how the artistic exchange between concrete artists working in Europe and Brazil intensified from the 1950s onwards with Max Bill as a central figure.

Accompanying the exhibition, is the major publication Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art at the MFAH. Edited by Héctor Olea and Mari Carmen Ramírez of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (distributed by Yale University Press), the volume assesses the research of avant-garde artists and groups of Concrete and Neoconcrete tendencies in post-War Brazilian art, and generates updated frameworks and new lines of investigation for the interpretation of these interrelated ten-dencies. It comprises of thirteen essays that were commissioned by a group of distinguis-hed artists, critics, and scholars from Brazil and the United States. The publication was designed by the noted Brazilian designer and artist Alexandre Wollner.