bandeirantes monuments
Model of the Monument to the Flags, by Victor Brecheret

In 1985, in the first issue of gum with banana, Luiz Gê published the short story “Entradas e Bandeiras”. In it, a couple from São Paulo – Arnaldo and his wife –, parked in a car at the intersection of Brigadeiro Luiz Antonio and Avenida Brasil, were prevented from proceeding because an indigenous person stood in front of him. The monstrously large Indian blocked the intersection for a strange procession to pass: they were the other members of the Monument to the Flags, by Victor Brecheret (located next door, in Ibirapuera Park), walking along the avenue, towards Morro do Jaraguá.

Installed there since 1953, the members of the Monument, by order and grace of Luiz Gê – and after twenty-two years –, they set themselves in motion through a very different city from the one that saw the monument being erected in the Park, in a time and in a space completely different from São Paulo where, supposedly, , lived those who would have served as matrix for the sculptural group of Brecheret[1].

What would happen to the members of the Monument to the Flags during that walk? I will tell you at the end of this text. Before, it would be interesting to draw attention to a fact that few people know: until they were installed at the entrance of Ibirapuera Park, the pioneers – or the monuments that should pay homage to them – kept in constant movement through the city.


Since the beginning of the last century, important segments of São Paulo society thought of honoring the pioneers, understood as the fathers of the “Paulista homeland”; for decades, such projects were ideally located in the most diverse places in the city, forcing the pioneers to migrate from region to region, always at the service of the projects and projections that paulistanos at the time made of their own future and their own past.

As far as is known, the first idea of ​​a monument honoring the pioneers came in 1912, in an article published in several segments by the engineer Adolfo Augusto Pinto, in The state of Sao Paulo[2]. His idea was to contribute to the transformations that the city would have to undergo in order, in ten years' time, to host the celebrations of the Centenary of Independence. In his mind, that date should not be set in São Paulo just by Independence Monument that already populated the minds of many people from São Paulo. It was necessary to transform the city as a whole, bearing in mind its intense growth and to think of new avenues, new parks, new monuments that would give it the distinction of being, alongside Buenos Aires and the Federal Capital, an exquisite European metropolis in across South America. Of the transformations that Pinto proposed for the improvement of São Paulo, the one of a public park, on the banks of the Tietê, stands out:

Finally, a large park destined to be frequented by the popular mass of a large city and in terms of being at the same time the “rendez-vous” of elegant society, cannot fail to be located close to the urban center, to be recommended. for the beauty of the access avenue, as well as for the ease and cheapness of the means of transport at your service.

To access the Park, Avenida Tiradentes should go all the way to the river, and it would be precisely on the grand avenue that the monument in honor of the pioneers would appear:

Avenida Tiradentes, extending from the English road to the banks of Tietê, would already be a beautiful boulevard and elegant public road, it would have much to gain from a decorative point of view if, at the deflection point of its first major straight, the double afforestation was interrupted to open a circular clearing there, similar to the around point of Avenida dos Campos Elíseos, in Paris, destined to be embellished by a sumptuous work of art, which could only be the monument to the Girl Scouts.

For Adolfo Pinto, São Paulo owed this homage to the “legendary Mamelucos” because it was from there – “padding the ground of that same Avenida Tiradentes” – that they had conquered the interior of the country. And continued:

In its great historical spirituality, the monument to the Bandeirantes, will represent the union of the old soul of São Paulo, in its first moves of bold initiative and rude intrepidity, with the cult spirit of energy, action and progress of the generations to come (…)[3]

As is well known, during the 1910s and 1920s, Adolfo Pinto became famous for his contributions to transforming São Paulo into a metropolis full of symbols that placed it as the bearer of a past ennobled by the heroism of its pioneers, a metropolis shaped by them in America. of the South under the aegis of Catholicism, and full of symbols of its singularities[4].


In 1920, the small universe of modernist intellectuals and artists that was being formed in São Paulo caused an uproar, the model for the Monument to the Flags that the then young sculptor Victor Brecheret presented to the public and government officials. Where would this monument be installed? Where in São Paulo? To this day it is not known for sure[5]. More than a “mere” aesthetic conclusion of some urbanistic equation, the Monument to the Flags it was a “nationalist” stance, contrary to the idea that the local Portuguese community would present São Paulo with a monument in honor of the pioneers, produced by the Portuguese sculptor Teixeira Lopes.

bandeirantes monuments
Model of the Monument to the Flags, by Victor Brecheret. Photo: reproduction

For the modernists, it sounded like an affront for the Portuguese to think that the Bandeirante “epic” could be thought of as being Lusitanian, and not São Paulo. Menotti Del Picchia, opposing the Portuguese donation, shows the war between narratives then existing between groups (or peoples, or “races”) that should deserve recognition as protagonists in the construction of the country:

The children of Brazil were as Brazilian in the Portuguese colony as they are today in the Republic. There are, therefore, no illusions: Brazil was made by Brazilians.
Admitting the Portuguese thesis [...] “As Bandeiras” were Portuguese feats, what S. Paulo achieved with the fruit of the efforts of the children of Italy is Italian… This is monstrously absurd. Our nativism repels this graft of foreign nationalities into our homeland.
Put the thesis on this footing, establishing the landmarks of what belongs, in our past, to each people, preventing the last living chiefs in the jungle from claiming to Brazil from Brazilians the work of the Indians of João de Barros, Duarte Coelho Pereira, Pereira Coutinho, Jorge Correa, Pedro Tourinho, Pero Góes, Mem de Sá and other grantees and governors; that the blacks of the African coast ask us to account for the slave labor effort – rights in this case. Equal to those of the Lusitanians – I can no longer see in “Bandeiras” the greatest epic of the Paulistas, the only fixators of the framework of our homeland[6]

In this view, as can be seen, only the paulistas (white, it is assumed) would enter the composition of the flags. This position, in turn, clarifies some of the characteristics found in the model of the Monument from 1920. It was del Picchia who had instructed the sculptor on the history of the pioneers[7], it is perfectly understandable why, in the main nucleus of the composition, only the paulistas (whites) were represented. In the model there was no representation of blacks and the indigenous people, well, the indigenous were relegated to two lateral figures, symbols of the insidious that lurked the pioneers in the sertões.[8]

In the published period texts, no information was found about the place where this monument should be located. At that time, I believe, there were no pressing justifications of an urbanistic nature. More than any rationality, it was only necessary to claim the precession of the paulistas in the narrative about bandeirismo. To prove that the debate was more ideological than practical, it is important to remember that it was also not reported where the members of the Portuguese colony intended to place the monument they would like to donate to the city.


Did Teixeira Lopes produce a model of his monument? There is no news about [9]. The Brecheret model was donated to the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, after its exhibition, since the São Paulo authorities were not interested in carrying out the production of the Monument.[10]. And why would that have happened?

The modernists clarified little about this lack of interest, with del Picchia lamenting the “lack of modern pioneers” who could afford to build the sculptural group.[11].

Modernist historiography, in turn, will be discreet when referring to the fact that the São Paulo authorities were not interested in the monument proposed by Brecheret because they had already committed themselves to the project of another Italian artist residing in São Paulo – Nicola Rollo. The monument designed by Rollo – Heroism of the Bandeirantes –, had a specific place to be installed: the first flight of stairs over the water basin facing the gardens of the Museu Paulista[12].

According to scholar Maria Cecilia M. Kunigk, the monument was divided into three distinct but complementary parts, forming an undivided unit:

Representing the “Heroes” in the central part of the monument, would be an austere and mythical female figure, standing out from the prow of a barge on a high pedestal. [...] the “Conquistadores”, on the left side of the monument, representing the first men to clear new lands, would encompass symbols of impetuous colonizers; and, finally, on the right side, the “Fertilizers”, symbolizing the taking of the land, the work of the soil, agriculture, representing the final stage of the conquest. [...][13]

This project by Rollo would be part of a monumental road complex, linking the Museu Paulista to the city center through a large avenue, decorated with “English style” parks and monuments that praised the importance of São Paulo in the history of Brazil. THE Heroism of the Bandeirantes should be at the foot of the Museum, between it and the Monument to Independence, by Ettore Ximenez – whose construction would begin the following year[14]. Further on, at the intersection between this monumental avenue and Avenida do Estado, an “allegorical obelisk” to the Republic should still be erected.[15]. The message of the Paulistas could not be clearer: São Paulo, based on the Bandeirante heritage, had made possible not only the independence of the country, but also the Republic itself.


According to Konigk, Rollo would have started his work, raising the clay monument, in definitive size, in his studio at Palácio das Indústrias. Although:

For its construction, however, it would be necessary to complete the redevelopment of the park that would form the gardens of the Museum, making the artist depend on third parties to continue his work. […] the artist had to wait for the completion of the garden works to have the final approval of his work, which would only occur around April 1924 […].[16]

But 1924 was also the year of the Revolution commanded by General Isidoro Dias Lopes, aimed at deposing President Artur Bernardes. The Palace of Industries was taken over by the rebels and Rollo, prevented from continuing work with the final model. Withered, the model soon deteriorated completely.


Project: Ponte Grande, 1930, by Prestes Maia. Photo: Reproduction.

It is speculated that Rollo's project, Heroism of the Bandeirantes, would still survive: in a 1930 study, at least part of it would be used in the project that Francisco Prestes Maia proposed for his monumental Ponte Grande (currently Ponte das Bandeiras), a memorial bridge that should connect the city to the other side of the Tietê River.

Prestes Maia planned to build it in two large arches, which would meet in the center of Tietê, (widened in that region), on a small artificial island. In turn, this island would house a monument in honor of the pioneers. It must be said that, as will be seen, nowhere in the text does Prestes Maia cite Rollo's monument as the matrix from which he would draw the main decoration for his Ponte Grande.

It would be important to underline the reason why the architect wanted to honor the pioneers with that bridge/monument:

The events remembered by Ponte Grande are the “flags”. A monument to the pioneers had already been started by the Government in Ipiranga Park and another one designed by the City Hall on the banks of the Tietê. Now we imagine it not on the bank, in a secondary situation, but in the very center of the river, like a great prow emerging from the waters, facing downstream, precisely in the direction of the hinterland, which the Paulista debauched and which is still, within the State, the “promised land”.[17]

It should be noted that, in the text, Prestes Maia does not explicitly mention the project by Nicola Rollo, but alludes to both the monument that was intended to be built in “Parque Ipiranga” and the other “on the banks of the Tietê”[18]. Although he makes reference to “a large prow emerging from the waters” – an element that was also included in Rollo’s study – also following the description of the projected bridge, he will not mention the monument conceived by an Italian sculptor:

The project is designed in a modern style. The pylons and the main monument are reduced to a stone shell or granite [...] on reinforced cement skeleton. All smooth and simple, which will make the sculptures worthwhile. But not the nudity or sterile decorative abstention of pseudo-rationalism. As the professor from Vienna says, “not everything necessary is beautiful, not everything superfluous is ugly”.
The lower central group is made up of large simple figures, slightly rigid and geometric, – in keeping with the taste of the period and the surrounding architecture. Even more than the other groups, its value will be mainly of mass and silhouette. This explanation answers in advance several objections. It is a monument intended to produce essentially mass effects and not to display delicate statuary.
The bottom group represents a “flag”; those on top of the pylons feature episodes and legends referring to the time; the crowning group is purely symbolic. Realistic representation, which is dangerous in monumental art, is in the secfundamental, given the character of the work.
The decoration is reduced almost exclusively to two motifs: the crests of the riverside cities (São Paulo, Mogi, Tietê etc.) and the stylized anhuma. It is known that this watercourse was the Tieté-Anhembi, the “big river of the anhumas”.[19]

Comparing this conception with Maria Cecilia M. Kunigk's description of the Heroism of the Bandeirantes (cited above), it seems evident that there are clear points of contact between Maia's idea and Rollo's project.


From Avenida Tiradentes to the Museum Park; from Praça da Sé to the middle of the Tietê River, as we know, the pioneers ended up stopping at the beginning of Ibirapuera Park, through the Monument to the Flags, by Victor Brecheret, not free of charge at the bases of Avenida Brasil, facing Jaraguá.

Although Brecheret's original project dates from 1920, until the beginning of the implementation of the Monument, in 1936, he underwent a series of transformations, underlining the changes that occurred in the artist's poetics, and which were manifested in drawings, projects for other monuments, etc.[20]. But not just.

Even taking into account the formal rigor of what is undoubtedly the best aesthetically conceived sculptural monument in the city, the Monument to the Flags points to a proposal of conciliation of the elites of São Paulo with the rest of the population. who dominates the Monument are the two men on horseback – the “superior” white man and the mameluco, his “direct” descendant – but, if in the original project the blacks were outside the proposal and the indigenous people symbolized as the ailments of the jungle, in this new version they configure the “people”, the nation and its different ethnicities commanded by the whites and their associates. It is because the people of São Paulo had lost the Revolution of 1932 and, therefore, should proceed calmly in their reinsertion in the symbolic and real plane of Brazil.


I now return to “Entradas e Bandeiras”, by Luiz Gê, from 1985, the year in which the political opening began, when the country began to emerge from the hardships of the civil-military regime, instituted in 1964.

As soon as the procession passes through the astonished eyes of the couple, Arnaldo finally decides to continue his journey. But, surprise: behold, Borba Gato appears running, coming from Santo Amaro, in search of the friends of the Monument. Delayed, the inelegant pioneer, conceived by Júlio Guerra, destroys the car, Arnaldo and his wife.

“Entradas e Bandeiras” can only be read as an amusing comic strip, or as a strong allegory of Brazil and Brazilians, who resurfaced after that dark period. Did the Girl Scouts run to the light at the end of the tunnel, or was there a trap door?[21]


[1] – “Entries and flags”, by Luiz Gê. Gum with banana🇧🇷 N.1, 1985.
[2] – The article by Adolfo A. Pinto, “The transformation and embellishment of São Paulo”, was published in The state of Sao Paulo, between 12 and 24 November 1912.
[3] – “The transformation and beautification of São Paulo III”. The state of Sao Paulo. November 14, 1923, p. 3.
[4] – For an overview of Adolfo A. Pinto's interventions, see the author's: “The engineer and the monument”. ARTE!brasileiros, December 18, 2019 and “The Pantheon of the Immortais de São Paulo: Tropical Delirium in the Pátio do Colégio”. ARTE!brasileiros, June 24, 2020.
[5] – Marta Rossetti Batista, citing a manuscript by Mário de Andrade, stated that the poet “had raised the possibility of seeing it erected in Praça da Sé”. (In BATISTA, Marta R. Flags of Brecheret: history of a monument (1920-1953). São Paulo: Department of Historical Heritage, 1985 pag. 53). As far as is known, this is the only reference to the possible location of the Monument, in 1920.
[6] – “Two Monuments. The people of São Paulo and the Portuguese will pay homage to São Paulo”, Menotti del Picchia. The Gazette. São Paulo, June 28, 1920. In BATISTA, Marta R. Flags of Brecheret: history of a monument (1920-1953). São Paulo: Department of Historical Heritage, 1985 pag. 25.
[7] – In a text from 1969, Menotti del Picchia reaffirms his role as Brecheret’s mentor for questions related to the history of the bandeirantes, in 1920: “Formed artistically in Europe, where he had followed very young, he ignored much of our land and almost everything of our history . It was with surprise and enthusiasm that he came to know for me the grandeur of the bandeirante epic”. And he goes further: “It was perhaps the plastic impression of this story that suggested to him the ascension and processional line of the woodsman group. It is the backbone of the majestic monument”. “History of a Monument (1)” Menotti del Picchia. Diary of São Paulo, June 26, 1969. Republished in: PELLEGRINI, Sandra B. Brecheret 60 years of news. São Paulo: Companhia Melhoramentos de São Paulo, nd
[8] – See “Descriptive memorial of the model of the Monumento das Bandeiras”. paper and ink. SP and RJ, Jul. 1920. (In Marta R. Flags of Brecheret: history of a monument (1920-1953). São Paulo: Department of Historical Heritage, 1985 pag.29). As will be seen, this feature will not remain in the final design of the Monument later erected at the entrance of Ibirapuera Park.
[9] – So far, there is no data on the project for the monument, authored by Teixeira Lopes. It is even feared that such a project – or sketch – does not even exist. In any case, we are contacting Portuguese colleagues to see if we can find anything, or any document, in Portugal.
[10] – The monument’s model, conceived in 1920 and donated to the Pinacoteca, was accidentally destroyed in a fall that occurred on the Museum’s premises in the 1940s.
[11] – “Social Chronicle – Eva”. São Paulo Post Office. April 15, 1021. Republished in: PELLEGRINI, Sandra B. Brecheret 60 years of news. São Paulo: Companhia Melhoramentos de São Paulo, sdp31.
[12] – KUNIGK, Maria Cecilia M. Nicola Rollo (1889-1970). A sculptor in Brazilian modernity. São Paulo: Master's Thesis; Plastic Arts Departments ECA USP, 2001. P. 114.
[13] – Idem, p. 110.
[14] – MONTEIRO, Michelli Cristine Scapol. São Paulo in the dispute for the past: the Monument to Independence by Ettore Ximenes. Sao Paulo. PhD thesis. FAU-USP, 2017, p. 327.
[15] – “Avenida da Independência – The inauguration of the construction works of the great urban road”. Sao Paulo Post. 6 July 1919. page 1.
[16] – KUNIGK, Maria Cecilia M. Nicola Rollo (1889-1970). A sculptor in Brazilian modernity. São Paulo: Master's Thesis; Plastic Arts Departments ECA USP, 2001. P. 116.
[17] – MAIA, Francisco Prestes. Study of an Avenue Plan for the City of São Paulo🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia Melhoramentos de São Paulo, 1930, p. 351.
[18] – Does this second allusion refer to Adolfo, A Pinto's idea of ​​building a monument in honor of the pioneers in the vicinity of Tietê? Something to be researched.
[19] – MAIA, Francisco Prestes. Study of an Avenue Plan for the City of São Paulo. São Paulo: Companhia Melhoramentos de São Paulo, 1930, p. page, 355 and 356.
[20] – On the subject, read, among others: “Walking through São Paulo makes São Paulo also walk in us”. Thaddeus Chiarelli. In CHIARELLI, Tadeu. (cur.). Metropolis: São Paulo experience. São Paulo: Pinacoteca de São Paulo, 2017. Page. 11 et seq.
[21] – For another interpretation of “Entradas e Bandeiras”, by Luiz Gê, see “The Monument to the Flags as a Process: from the present to the past”, by Thiago Gil de Oliveira Virava and Domingos Tadeu Chiarelli, at https://revistaquiroga.andaluciayamerica .com/index.php/quiroga/article/view/340/244

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