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Hércules Barsotti's Ink Drawings

Twelve ink drawings by Hércules Barsotti explore a radical geometry and a systematic mode of working that, already in 1960, point to a new mode of working for the Brazilian artist.

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Christophe cherix

Christophe Cherix

Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chief Curator, Department of Prints and Illustrated Books The Museum of Modern Art Christophe Cherix is The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Chief Curator of Prints and Illustrated Books at The Museum of Modern Art. He joined the department as curator in July... Read more »
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Hércules Barsotti's Ink Drawings

Twelve ink drawings by Hércules Barsotti explore a radical geometry and a systematic mode of working that, already in 1960, point to a new mode of working for the Brazilian artist.

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Twelve ink drawings by Hércules Barsotti explore a radical geometry and a systematic mode of working that, already in 1960, point to a new mode of working for the Brazilian artist.

Hércules Barsotti, who belonged to a generation of great artists from Brazil, traveled extensively in Europe at multiple times, first in the late 1940s and then again throughout the 1950s, when he met a figure who would become foundational to his practice and those of many of his peers, Max Bill. In 1954 Barsotti opened a graphic design studio in São Paolo with his life partner Willys de Castro (whose achievements sometimes overshadowed his own), but he remained committed to his art. In the 1950s his work turned to a radical geometry that is devoid of any trace of his hand or brush and is simplified to the extreme.

The twelve drawings coming to MoMA from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros might be among his greatest works. Each drawing is made of two or three lines originating from either opposite angles or opposites edges of the paper. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that these lines not only never intersect but also run parallel in their last segment, creating the impression of shifting planes. These works represent multiple variations of the same idea. As a whole, the series seems already to point to a new mode of working, in which the artist exhausted the possibilities generated by a system, an idea that would become increasingly popular among other artists in the second half of the 1960s.

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