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Black Art in Brazil

Expressions of Identity

Kimberly L. Cleveland

Publication Year: 2013

For decades, Afro-Brazilian art was primarily associated with religious themes. However, developments in the national discourse on race, ethnicity, and black art in the latter part of the twentieth century have produced a shift away from sacred symbols to art more representative of the complete Afro-Brazilian experience.

Kimberly Cleveland highlights the work of five Brazilian artists from all over the country who work in a wide range of media, including photography, sculpture, and installation art. She shows how each conveys "blackness" through his or her unique visual vocabulary and points out the ways this reflects their lived experiences. By examining how these artists explore their African cultural heritage in their work, Cleveland reveals the myriad ways in which they confront social, economic, political, and historical issues related to race in Brazil. Most important, Black Art in Brazil highlights how the markers of black art and culture in Brazil have continued to diversify.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright, Funding, Dedication

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-x

List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-21

This encounter involving British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare speaks to this book’s core question: What does black art look like? Th e relationship between race and art is relevant to production from various parts of the world. However, the way that discourse on racially based artistic categories has evolved, as well as the implications surrounding race-related artistic...

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1. Race, Identity, and Cultural Literacy: Visual Signs of “Blackness” in Art

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pp. 22-45

An examination of race in Brazil reveals significantly different approaches to the subject at the national and popular levels over the course of the twentieth century. While the government remained reluctant to officially address race and racial categories, the general population formulated its own markers of “blackness,” largely along visual lines. Significantly, there was a ...

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2. Abdias Nascimento

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pp. 46-68

Abdias Nascimento (b. 1914–d. 2011) was a self-taught painter based in Rio de Janeiro. He was known nationally and internationally as the founder of the Teatro Experimental do Negro and for his work as a Congressman (1983–1986) and Senator (1991, 1997–1999). His high-profi le endeavors in multiple areas and advanced foray into painting at age 54 overshadowed...

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3. Ronaldo Rego

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pp. 69-88

Ronaldo Rego (b. 1935) is a multimedia artist based in Rio de Janeiro. Following some informal study in oil painting and print work in his thirties through free classes at Rio’s School of Visual Arts (formerly the Fine Arts Institute of Guanabara State), he continued to refi ne his artistic skills and diversify his areas of specialization. Since the mid-1960s, Rego has produced ...

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4. Eustáquio Neves

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pp. 89-109

Eustáquio Neves (b. 1955) is a photographer based in Diamantina, a colonial city in the interior state of Minas Gerais. Though a self-taught artist, he incorporates his knowledge of chemistry in his photographic processes. Over time, this use of chemical manipulation and other physical interferences have become a hallmark of his work. Thematically, many of his visually complex...

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5. Ayrson Heráclito

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pp. 110-127

Ayrson Heráclito (b. 1968) is a multimedia artist based in the northeastern state of Bahia. In his work, he utilizes forms and materials that have become synonymous with this part of Brazil, and especially its Africandescendant population, in innovative ways. Heráclito is inspired by many of the familiar signs and themes from Candomblé. However, his artistic process...

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6. Rosana Paulino

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pp. 128-146

Rosana Paulino (b. 1967) is a native of the sprawling city of São Paulo. As someone whose work is not confi ned to just one genre in terms of media, style, or content, she mirrors the diversity of her environment. Paulino employs both the formal art schooling she received through her undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of São Paulo and the informal...

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pp. 147-152

Over the course of the twentieth century in Brazil, historical, political, and social developments affected artistic production, including that by the country’s African descendants. National officials, regional politicians, and members of the organized black movements, among others, promoted black Brazilian art at different times and for different reasons. Individuals in the...


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pp. 153-156

Works Cited

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pp. 157-170


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pp. 171-173

About the Author

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pp. 174-174

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048369
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813044767

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 34 color plates, 6 b&w figures
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 846492802
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Black Art in Brazil

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Artists, Black -- Brazil.
  • Art, Black -- Brazil.
  • Nascimento, Abdias do, 1914-2011.
  • Rego, Ronaldo.
  • Neves, Eustáquio, 1955-.
  • Heráclito, Ayrson.
  • Paulino, Rosana.
  • Brazil -- Race relations.
  • Blacks -- Brazil -- Social conditions.
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