Tropicália, one of the most significant cultural movements to emerge from South America in the last five decades, marked a true revolution in Brazilian music, visual arts, theater, and cinema, while also influencing advertising, fashion, and television. Inspired by the writings of Oswald de Andrade, one of the founding figures of Brazilian modernism, the movement took its name from an installation created in 1967 by the young Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica, whose work embraced an aesthetic of informality, interactivity, and cultural hybridity. Tropicália also became the title of one of the most celebrated albums in Brazilian music history, featuring Caetano Veloso and others.
This exhibition revisits this seminal moment in Brazilian culture, examining tropicalismo as a true force in popular culture and a continuing source of inspiration for several generations of artists, writers, and musicians. It consists of major works from the 1967 re-creation of the original New Brazilian Objectivity exhibition, and works by numerous artists including Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, and Antônio Dias; a survey of films; excerpts from concerts by the tropicalist musicians; and examples of advertising, fashion, television clips, and artist-designed theater sets. The historical component is complemented by a contemporary section that assesses the impact of tropicalismo on contemporary art and culture. New commissions by musicians and artists include works by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Arto Lindsay, Marepe, Ernesto Neto, and Rivane Neuenschwander, among others.
Guest-curated by New York-based independent curator Carlos Basualdo, this exhibition is coorganized by MCA Chicago and the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York. The MCA presentation is coordinated by Assistant Curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm.
With the launch of this website, the MCA has created a platform for archiving and publishing images and stories from our 50-year history. Though many exhibition pages currently lack descriptions or illustrations, we’re committed to a program of ongoing research that will fill in the blanks over time. If you have information about past MCA exhibitions to share, we’d be delighted to hear from you.