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There’s More to Brazil than FIFA

From my latest on MutualArt:
No matter what part of the world you call home, you’re probably immersed in World Cup fever. As the 2014 FIFA World Cup puts Brazil in the spotlight, we’re following suit and examining some of the varied places to experience art in the diverse country. Since its return to democracy in 1985, the country has become rich with a fine art, architecture and cultural renaissance that match the beauty of the country’s famous beaches and lush rainforests. Aside from many starchitect-designed museums that have popped up all over the country, independent art galleries, art fairs and public art are thriving. In 2009, the Brazilian government made street art legal with the consent of business owners; so many cities throughout the country have their own open-air museums, created by local and international artists that add another layer to the vibrancy of Brazil.
Vik Muniz, The Football Player, 2012. Courtesy of 2104 FIFA World Cup Artist Editions.
To kick off this World Cup season, Brazilian twin artists Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, also known as Os Gêmeos, have partnered with Brazilian airline Gol to bring art to the skies. The twins have created one of their signature murals right on the side of the Boeing 737 that will transport the Brazilian national team from venue to venue.
Os Gemeos paint Gol Airline’s Boeing 737. Courtesy of Gol Airlines.
Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP). Courtesy of the museum.
Celia Euvaldo installation, Galeria Raquel Arnaud. Courtesy of the gallery.
São Paulo is not only the world’s fourth largest city, but also an exciting hub for contemporary art, with a bevy of museums, galleries and growing street art scene attracting artists and collectors the world over. MASP or the Museu de Arte de São Paulo is the pinnacle of the contemporary art world in both São Paulo and South America, focusing on post-World War II and contemporary art with its vast collection that rivals MoMA and the Centre Pompidou. The seminal Galleria Raquel Arnaud first bolstered contemporary artists in São Paulo in the late 1960s, and continues to be one of the most respected galleries in the city. Considered a visionary, Arnaud regularly shows cutting edge artists such as Sílvia Mecozzi, Alberto Martins, and Waltercio Caldas, who she recently brought to Art Basel 2014. Street artists have flocked to São Paulo for years, turning the city into an outdoor museum, with added murals commissioned by FIFA to add to the fun. If feeling adventurous fans can head to the Vila Madalena neighborhood to enjoy a high concentration of open-air art. One of the original venues to showcase street art inside the gallery is Choque Cultural. Founded in 2004, the gallery is an immersive experience, with art covering almost every surface inside and out, featuring exhibitions by Brazilian street artists, as well as international street artists from the US and Europe. The upcoming São Paulo Biennial, the second oldest art biennial in the world, presents its 31st rendition from September 6 to December 7, bringing 70 projects, 100 participants and 250 artworks to Ibirapuera Park.
Choque Cultural. Courtesy of the gallery.
Inhotim, near the FIFA venue of Belo Horizonte, is home to one of the world’s best outdoor sculpture gardens. Combining 5,000 acres of lush botanical gardens with sculpture, the Centro de Arte Contemporanea Inhotim features work by both international and Brazilian artists like Doug AitkenAnish KapoorChris BurdenMatthew Barney, Hélio Oiticica and an entire pavilion dedicated to Adriana Varejão. Back in Belo Horizonte proper, The Murilo Castro Gallery pushes the boundaries of contemporary Brazilian artists, and regularly presents their work in international art fairs.
Chris Burden, Beam Drop, 2008. Courtesy of Inhotim, photo by Eduardo Eckenfels.
Rio de Janeiro is the stage for not only the 2014 FIFA games but also the 2016 Olympics, but sports is not the only thing Rio has to offer.  They are home to a great roster of contemporary art venues and architectural gems. Rio is another Brazilian city full of street art, with international artists flocking in to create murals in the favelas. The new Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) just opened in 2013, housing four permanent collections in two spaces – a historic colonial structure, and a more modern former bus station. Currently, an exciting exhibition called “Josephine Baker and Le Corbusier in Rio – A Transatlantic Affair” is joined by a vigorous performance art program.The MAC: Museum of Contemporary Art holds important Brazilian painting and sculpture, including the Truth series by Roberto Coda Zabetta, which honors the citizens imprisoned or who had disappeared during Brazil’s military dictatorship. Aside from incredible art, the MAC is also known for its flying saucer-style building designed by Oscar Niemeyer that is perched on the gorgeous Guanabara Bay and offers panoramic views of the city. Galeria Tempo exclusively showcases photography and video art, from both established and emerging artists, such as Sebastião Salgado, André Cypriano, Marc Riboud and Anna Kahn. Anita Schwartz Gallery is a Rio staple, bringing contemporary art, lectures and panels into the three level gallery space for 25 years. On the other side of the spectrum is A Gentil Carioca, a creative endeavor of notable Brazilian artists Márcio Botner, Ernesto Neto and Laura Lima. The gallery doubles as a creative center where other artists can meet, discuss the art market, exchange ideas or even produce work.
Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR). Courtesy of the museum, photo by Thales Leites.
MAC Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum. Courtesy of the museum.
Bruno Giorgi, Os Candangos, 1959. Courtesy of Palacio do Planalto.
Visitors are welcome to the capital city of Brasília by its unofficial sculpture, Os Candangos, a 25 foot tall bronze by Giorgi in front of the Palacio do Planalto depicting two figures holding poles that pay tribute to the men who built the city. The central focus of Brasília’s art scene is at The Museum of Brazilian Arts Brasília, which houses 700 works of contemporary Brazilian art from 1970 to present day. The space age Museu Nacional, also designed by Brazil’s beloved Oscar Niemeyer, looks like a futuristic dome and houses rotating contemporary art exhibitions. For a cozy contemporary gallery, Galeria Referência has dominated the contemporary Brazilian art scene for 16 years, boasting one of the biggest collections in a private gallery in the city.
Museu Nacional Brasilia. Courtesy of the museum.
Galeria Referencia installation shot. Courtesy of the gallery.
The northeastern city of Recife is the country’s fifth biggest, sitting on a major Atlantic port in Pernambuco. The city’s historic Museum of Modern Art Aloisio Magalhães (MAMAM) has a vast collection of Brazilian art, ranging from 1920 to 2008, including modern notable artists such as Ernesto Neto and Vik MunizGaleria Mariana Moura opened up in the heart of Recife in 2004. The award winning gallery focuses on forging a dialogue between contemporary artists throughout Brazil.
Museum of Modern Art Aloisio Magalhaes (MAMAM). Courtesy of the museum.
Mariana Moura Gallery. Courtesy of the gallery.
In time for the FIFA celebrations, ice cream company Kibon has transformed the rooftops of Morro do Alomeo, which is not a regular art center in Brazil, into a sprawling art gallery that can only be seen from a bird’s-eye view. The “Raise the Roof” campaign features 22 pieces by ten local artists and the community that visitors can view by cable car. The focus of the entire world may be on Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but there is a thriving and exciting contemporary art scene waiting to be discovered throughout the country’s diverse regions.
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