From currency and maps to heavily censored newspapers and television programming, Art Systems explores visual forms of critique and subversion during the height of Brazilian dictatorship, drawing sometimes surprising connections between artistic production and broader processes of social exchange during a period of authoritarian modernization. Positioning the works beyond the prism of politics, Elena Shtromberg reveals subtle forms of subversion and critique that reinvented the artists’ political terrain.
Analyzing key examples from Cildo Meireles, Antonio Manuel, Artur Barrio, Anna Bella Geiger, Sonia Andrade, Geraldo Mello, and others, the book offers a new framework for theorizing artistic practice. By focusing on the core economic, media, technological, and geographic conditions that circumscribed artistic production during this pivotal era, Shtromberg excavates an array of art systems that played a role in the everyday lives of Brazilians. An examination of the specific historical details of the social systems that were integrated into artistic production, this unique study showcases works that were accessed by audiences far outside the confines of artistic institutions. Proliferating during one of Brazil’s most socially and politically fraught decades, the works—spanning cartography to video art—do not conform to an easily identifiable style, form, material use, or medium. As a result of this breadth, Art Systems gives voice to the multifaceted forces at play in a unique chapter of Latin American cultural history.
Elena Shtromberg is an assistant professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Utah.
Rich in insightful historical details, Art Systems is an extremely valuable tool for researchers interested not only in the cultural politics of the 1970s but also in how the discourses and debates of this period constitute the roots of the current crisis and the artistic responses it has elicited.
~Journal of Latin American Studies
Art Systems is a brilliantly lucid, well-written reading of major and minor artists from the [1970s] and will be of interest to scholars of global conceptualism, political art, contemporary art, Brazilian studies, and Latin American studies. The breadth and range of its analysis is impressive.
~Latin American & Latinx Visual Culture
A laserfocused accounting of how a handful of Brazilian artists used popular systems to expose and interrogate government actions. [Art Systems] is one of those rare books that, although a recent publication, has made such an impact on the study of Brazilian art that it feels like a canonical text.
~Latin American Research Review
In prose that is engaging and clear, Elena Shtromberg proposes a novel approach to the study of Brazilian conceptual art during the 1970s, the most repressive period of military rule. By analyzing works in relation to larger systems of communication, she sheds light on vast realms of social life in Brazil during a phase of authoritarian modernization. While Art Systems explores works that explicitly expressed dissent, it also reveals more subtle forms of critique that effectively reimagined the terrain of political intervention through artistic practice.
~Christopher Dunn, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University, and author of Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture
An engaging, creatively organized text, Art Systems offers thoughtful and amply researched historical contextualization of a generation’s philosophical and aesthetic motivations.
~Claire F. Fox, Professor of English/Spanish and Portuguese, University of Iowa, and author of Making Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War
Chapter 1: Currency
Chapter 2: Newspapers
Chapter 3: Television
Chapter 4: Maps
Appendix: Artist Biographies
Stay connected for our latest books and special offers.
We live in an information-rich world. As a publisher of international scope, the University of Texas Press serves the University of Texas at Austin community, the people of Texas, and knowledge seekers around the globe by identifying the most valuable and relevant information and publishing it in books, journals, and digital media that educate students; advance scholarship in the humanities and social sciences; and deepen humanity’s understanding of history, current events, contemporary culture, and the natural environment.