Among the so-called "tribal objects" that served as anti-imperialist propaganda for the French Surrealist movement, the primitivism mediated by Lionello Venturi's Il gusto dei primitivi (1926) - as a counterbalance to the classicist bases of the artistic historiography - and the proposals of the Brazilian's anthropophagic modernism, there are suggestive indications of similar cultural resistances. Between the old and the new continent or, say, between the vices of Western's traditions and the Brazilian's vernacular tradition we can find, during the 1920s and the 1930s, a common interest in the concepts of primitive, savage and cannibal as ways to restructure the cultural identities and then, also, as means to problematize the concepts of tradition and classicism.While, for the French Surrealists, the savages had to role of a counterweight to the colonialist conception of history of art - inspiring also different aesthetic sensibilities - in the Italy of Lionello Venturi the primitives would disturb the classicist structures of an artistic historiography, with strong vasarians roots, assuming a more spiritual character, contrary to the classicist progressive perspective, based on formal virtuosity. In contrast, the Brazilian modernist proposals - specifically those of Oswald de Andrade and Mario de Andrade - aware of the European avant-garde, created the image of a cannibal, as a metaphor of cultural self-consumption, that was not meant to expand the frontiers of unknown and exotic - as in the European case - but that aimed to understand and to invent its own tradition.The Brazilian cannibals did not fight the vices of tradition or of cultural misadventures, as Venturi's primitivism or the proposals of the surrealist savages. The main battle of the Brazilian modernists was against the excesses of the importation of civilization, its interest was mainly in the discovery of an incorruptible culture, able to unveil an authentic national identity, discerning what was invented tradition from what was imported tradition.Here would like to confront these three uses of primitivism, as critical-productive attitudes, trying to analyze their peculiarities and to discuss the meaning of tradition and cultural opposition, in their context.
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