Poster for the second edition of the Bienal, known as the “Bienal da Guernica”. Photo: Publicity/ Fundação Bienal de São Paulo
Poster for the second edition of the Bienal, known as the “Bienal da Guernica”. Photo: Publicity/ Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

EAs it prepares for the opening, on September 4th, of its main exhibition, 34ª edition, titled It's dark but I sing, São Paulo Biennial commemorates its 70 years of existence through a series of actions – which run from July to 2022. Among them is the podcast Biennale, 70 years, with some episodes already available (listen here), the release of the short film Wanda Svevo Historical Archive: the past in perpetual construction (on Canal Arte 1 on July 31 and then on YouTube at the Bienal) and the reprint of the publication Timeline of the Bienal de São Paulo, who will be available for purchase at Livraria da Travessa.

Furthermore, on social media institution, a series of artists, singers and actors share their memories about the show, which in 33 editions has brought together approximately 11.500 artists or collectives from 140 countries, more than 70 works and 8,5 million visitors. Through the motto campaign “Bienal: 70 years ago, you haven’t left yourself”, the reports of names such as Lima Duarte, Mariana Ximenes, Enivo, Beatriz Milhazes, Nino Cais, Ana Lira and Siron Franco. Others will join them in the coming weeks. The Bienal's Instagram is also presenting, through daily posts, the story of each of the posters of the 34 editions of the show.

São Paulo Biennial
General view of the 1st Bienal (1951). Photo: Reproduction of the São Paulo Biennial Foundation website.

Held for the first time in 1951 at the initiative of businessman Ciccillo Matarazzo (1898-1977), at the time president of the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art, the São Paulo Biennial is considered a milestone for the insertion of Brazil and South America. South on the international arts circuit. In the first year, the show received works by 729 artists from 25 countries, demonstrating the grandeur and ambition of the event. Among them were the tripartite unit, by the Swiss Max Bill, one of the winners of the event and which opened the doors to concretism in Brazilian art, and the special rooms dedicated to the Brazilian modernists Cândido Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. Also present, for the first time in Brazil, were works by Pablo Picasso and René Magritte, among many others.

The second edition of the Bienal, in 1953, became known as the “Bienal de Guernica”, for bringing to the country one of the most famous works by Picasso. The next edition, in 1955, featured works by Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera. The 4th Bienal, in 1957, was the first organized in the space that would become its permanent headquarters, the Pavilhão das Indústrias do Parque Ibirapuera, designed by Oscar Niemeyer – and today known as the Ciccillo Matarazzo Pavilion. She presented a room dedicated to the American painter Jackson Pollock and accumulated controversy for, for example, refusing works by Flávio de Carvalho.

São Paulo Biennial
Photo from the publication “Timeline of the Bienal de São Paulo”. Photo: Levi Fanan/ Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

These and many other stories are covered in the podcast or in the reedited timeline. Over the following decades, themes emerged as well: the intense conflicts experienced at the time of the civil-military dictatorship, the outstanding performance of the critic Mário Pedrosa, the emphasis given to surrealism and international Pop Art, the work of Brazilian Concretists and Neo-Concretists. , the emergence of video art and performance, the curatorship of Walter Zanini, Paulo Herkenhoff, among others.     

Scheduled for release in the first half of 2022, Fundação Bienal is also producing a book composed of chronicles and unpublished essays that focus on key moments in the history of the event. The publication will feature 30 texts commissioned by authors of different profiles – such as Tiago Gualberto, Lyz Parayzo, Claudio Bueno and João Simões, Veronica Stigger, Naine Terena, Fernanda Pitta, Michael Asbury and Clarissa Diniz – the book is organized by Paulo Miyada, curator assistant at the 34th Bienal de São Paulo. A series of four medium-length documentaries on the history of the Bienal de São Paulo is also in production, directed by Carlos Nader and produced in partnership with Itaú Cultural.

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