Top 20: works by Pinacoteca de São Paulo

A special selection of Pinacoteca works accompanies the new exhibition of the institution's collection, which includes very recent works that were donated or acquired in recent years

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Today we decided to talk about the Pinacoteca de São Paulo collection, one of the most traditional institutions in the country, in a different way. When thinking about the collection of this museum specifically, it is normal for people to imagine older works, paintings in scandalous frames and classic sculptures, such as works by Malfatti and Victor Brecheret.

Here, we also gathered some works that go back to works like these, but we made a special selection that includes contemporary works that were recently donated to the institution or acquired by it. These new works are included in a new assembly of the exhibition of the collection that opened recently with the reopening of the museum after the quarantine period and that will be on display for the next five years, until December 31, 2025! Organized into three large sections, this exhibition is divided between Art Territories, Individual Body / Collective Body and body and territory.

Check out our selection below, which is accompanied by descriptions that were supported by the material recently made available by the museum in the series #PinaDeCasa, made by the museum during social isolation to bring the institution closer to the public.

Neide Sa, Wake up.

Created in 1967, during the military dictatorship, Neide Sá's work acted as a provocation for people to use a better critical sense about how the press treated the country's direction in the news. The work was added to the Pinacoteca collection after being shown at the Mulheres Radicais exhibition in 2018.

Candido Portinari, Mixed race, 1934

Purchased by the Government of the State of São Paulo in 1935, one year after its creation, Portinari's work is an attempt by the artist to bring in a single figure the personification of a certain notion of identity of the Brazilian people, sustained for years in historiography . In this way, she reflects on how these notions address an ethnic mixture that would have in its scope indigenous people, enslaved Africans and whites of European origin.

Georgina de Albuquerque, Italian head, 1907

A work that has been present in the institution's collection since 1912, the work is linked to a series of other works by Georgina in which she explored portraits of national types, trying not to stigmatize the figures she painted. However, in this work that she produced during a period that she lived in France, she did not avoid using elements that refer to the imagery of what a typical Italian woman was, with somewhat stereotyped props.

Sidney Amaral, Black mother (the fury of Iansã), 2014

Artist Sidney Amaral, who died early in 2017, painted a black mother of the 21st century who defends her son from police violence perpetuated by genocidal policies against the black population to this day. Amaral's work reflects how institutional racism is rooted in Brazilian society, having been first fomented by the slave system in Colonial Brazil and extending over the years in the power relations that followed.

Claudia Andujar, Arajani, BR 210, 1981

Andujar's photograph was taken in the 1980s, when she accompanied the resistance of the Yanomami to actions on their land, such as the construction of the Perimetral Norte highway, the invasion of miners and the carrying out of religious missions, with tragic consequences for life and health. of this people. The work is linked to the Marcados series, a famous set of photographs by Andujar.

Tunga, True Rouge, 1997


This was the first work by the artist to be placed in space by lifting materials, a procedure that Tunga used a lot in other works that followed later. There are bigger versions of true rouge, like the one installed in a gallery in Inhotim.

 Cinthia Marcelle and Tiago Mata Machado, Ship, 2017

Commissioned by the Bienal de São Paulo to represent the country in the Brazil Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, this video by Cinthia and Tiago mentions prison riots and also draws attention to the massacres committed within them, especially those that took place in Brazil around throughout that year of 2017, raising a discussion about the prison system.

Tarsila do Amaral, Anthropophagy, 1929

The painting Anthropophagy, from 1929, as the title indicates, is an assimilation of the two previous works: figure and background of Abaporu and the black one merge, forming a primeval couple, in a dense and silent landscape. The images inspired by an archaic, pre-Cabraline Brazil, combined with the use of modern language, created a possible solution to a paradox present in the anthropophagic prescription: the need to reconcile primitive and modern aspects at the same time.

Tuca Vieira, Paraisopolis, 2004.

Considered since the year of its capture as one of the most iconic photographs of the century, this image by photographer Tuca Vieira is a stark portrait of social inequality in the country, showing the contrast existing in the south of São Paulo, where the condominiums and luxurious houses of the neighborhood of Morumbi collide with the modest houses of the community of Paraisópolis.

Rosana Paulino, memory wall, 1994

Attached to the Pinacoteca collection in 2016, Paulino's work exposes the violence exercised against Afro-descendant bodies, the silencing and invisibility to which they were subjected, the persistence, in short, of the disastrous legacy of slavery in Brazil. The work is made up of small cushioned bags on which photographs of the artist's family are printed, having been transformed many times over time, with more than a thousand patuás in one of its compositions.

Maria Leontina, The V episodes, 1959

In this work that is part of the Pinacoteca collection, Leontina highlights the overcoming of the opposition between figure and background. She uses geometric shapes larger than those she used in her production that permeated that moment. Among these forms, rectangles and squares prevail, arranged in such a way as to create a slight suggestion of depth on the surface of the canvases. The work says a lot about the production of the artist, one of the most important women of geometric abstraction in the country.

Regina Parra, Chance, 2017

Work made in neon, a material that is often used to signal and attract attention, Chance it is a work that is written in large, reddish letters and installed on a self-supporting structure, the phrase “A Grande Chance” presents a promise, but, without any development, remains an enigma. After all, what would be such a great chance for the artist? And for each person in the audience? The answer remains open-ended and becomes personal.

Pedro Americo, Hamlet's vision, 1893


Hamlet's vision was painted when Pedro Américo, back in Florence, had completed, in Brazil, two years in office as deputy elected by the province of Paraíba. On the screen, Américo chooses to combine in the same composition two scenes narrated in different passages of the original text: one, from the first act, when Hamlet – wide-eyed, with his right arm suspended, in a sign of astonishment – is surprised by the sight of the ghost of the his father, represented at the bottom of the canvas; the other, from the fifth act, when the young man takes the skull of the former court jester in his hands and utters the famous phrase “To be or not to be. That is the question".

Ernesto DeFiori, walking man, 1937-38.

The figure of the man walking or marching is present in Ernesto de Fiori's production from 1920 to 1938, at least. This piece, which belongs to the Pinacoteca collection, was probably made between 1936 and 1937, has its specificities in the way the man projects his body forward, with his head and torso thrown to the left, in a long step, suggesting speed and obstinacy. .

Jaider Esbell, Spell to save Raposa Serra do Sol, 2019


Incorporated last year into the Pinacoteca's collection, this work by Esbell is among the first works by indigenous artists to integrate the institution's collection, a historic event. In the work, side by side, with little or no separation, real and imaginary animals appear, pieces of vegetation and graphics that may refer to body painting and crafts of the Makuxi people. The scene presents a diversity of elements and details, while, by organizing them in a relationship of continuity, it demonstrates their belonging to the whole. It is a tribute to Raposa Serra do Sol, an indigenous land where the artist lived until he was 19 and which until today remains unmarked.

Flavio Cerqueira, Before I forget, 2013.

In Before I forget, from 2013, the artist sculpts a black boy in bronze, painting him with white paint. Frequently bringing the approach to racial issues in his works, Cerqueira places the character leaning forward, with his hands resting on the mirror. They are so close that the object and the reflected image almost meet. When observing, we can interpret as an individual inserted in a society in which western and white values are predominant.

Hudinilson Jr. Out-door loving position, 1981.

An enlargement on photographic paper pasted on paper, Hudinilson's work was donated to the Pinacoteca and today, it is even part of the artist's individual exhibition at the institution, entitled Hudinilson Jr.: Explicit. From the donation of a photograph showing the work installed on a billboard on Rua da Consolação, it was possible to reassemble the work in another context and place: the rear facade of the Pinacoteca Station building, 39 years after the original assembly.


Maxwell Alexander, A cigarette and life out the window


Elle de Bernardini, Dance With Me.



This is the first work by a transsexual artist to be part of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo collection. In 2019, Elle performed in the institution's octagon in a presentation that was part of the exhibition Somos muit+s: experiments on collectivity. In the performance, the artist applies honey and gold leaf to her naked body, referring to Joseph Beuys' concept of social sculpture. The artist invites the public to dance with her, “defending the acceptance of bodies that move away from heteronormativity”.

Randolph Lamonier, We legalize love, from the series prophecies, 2019.

Donated to Pinacoteca from an acquisition made at SP-Arte in 2019, the work is part of the series prophecies, in which the artist creates works based on thoughts that are based on contemporary guidelines that he considers urgent, including gender equality, anti-racism and land reform. These are predictions that the artist makes considering guidelines that are linked to the progressive advance of society and the State, which he materializes in sewing and embroidery on fabric.

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