Adelino Lyon de Castro
Adelino Lyon de Castro

2nd Floor

entry: General Conditions

O Fardo das Imagens (1945-1953)

Adelino Lyon de Castro

Curatorship: Emília Tavares

In 2009, the Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea – Museu do Chiado received a generous and significant donation, from Tito Lyon de Castro, comprising the photographic estate of Adelino Lyon de Castro. A prominent figure in the editorial and literary world, founder of the publishing house Publicações Europa-América in 1945 with his brother Francisco, Lyon de Castro’s photographic work remains practically unknown. Despite always being an amateur, he amassed, between the mid 1940s and and his death, in 1953, a significant body of images whose coherent subject matter is consistent with his political opposition to the Estado Novo and his socialist and humanist ideals. The National Museum of Contemporary Art – Museu do Chiado presents a previously unseen collection of 70 images which reveal to us the unofficial – and repressed – face of Portuguese society during the Estado Novo. These images focus on the challenging living conditions faced by workers and those marginalised from society, inspired by the ideals of “revolutionary romanticism” (Henri Lefebvre), which were so influential for many neorealists. As a photographer, Lyon de Castro’s legacy is an extraordinary and unexpected visual diary of labour, poverty and exclusion as well as conditions of social degradation and the role that photography can play in exposing and explaining reality. It is also an opportunity – through comparing their reading and appearance with Lyon de Castro’s images – to reflect on the nature, invariably hybrid and ill-equipped for portraying reality, of Carlos Relva’s nineteenth century portraits of beggars, of the mass visual surveys of the Estado Novo, of images from pamphlets of the period as well as of certain modernist paintings in the MNAC-Museu do Chiado collection.

Emília Tavares

+ Info