entry: General Conditions

Arte Portuguesa do Século XX (1960 - 2010)

MNAC - Museu do Chiado Collection

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Between the 1960s and 70s, Portuguese society underwent profound changes and the international echoes that reshaped the paradigm of the modern world reached Portugal with the April 1974 revolution. The 1960s was a time of exile that simultaneously brought contact with the avant-garde movements and the 1970s was the decade in which art was celebrated in the form of multiple modes of experimentation. The process of opening up to the outside brought about a series of ruptures and a plethora of proposals in Portuguese art as the continuities were reconfigured. The panorama is vast, ranging from the influences of pop art and its critical dimension (Sá Nogueira or António Areal), via abstract expressionism (Álvaro Lapa), chromatic abstraction (Fernando Calhau, Ângelo de Sousa), and op art (Eduardo Nery) to perceptive experimentation (Noronha da Costa) and new figuration, a movement whose key figures were Joaquim Rodrigo and Paula Rego. The concept of the art object was radicalized through the deconstruction of painting as genre and surface either by its objectification (Helena Almeida), via the support/surface dialectic (Pires Vieira), or by the systemic breadth of geometric abstraction (Jorge Pinheiro). Other proposals included interdisciplinarity, whether between art and technology (René Bértholo), the integration of everyday and industrial materials (Lourdes Castro), action painting and lettrism (Ana Hatherly, Salette Tavares, João Vieira, António Sena) or the expanded dimension of painting (Helena Almeida) and sculpture (Alberto Carneiro). This period also bore witness to a complete redefinition of the status of the artist and the spectator in that interaction between them was encouraged, with the rejection of any notion of contemplativeness and the assimilation of the banal through artistic discourse, by which it was desacralized and an effective alliance between life and art was fostered. (Emília Tavares)


Following the ruptures that took place in the previous two decades, the 1980s saw the emergence of a dialectic between the subjective and the real and a return to the typologies of painting (neo-abstractionisms and expressionisms) and sculpture (neo-objectualisms). In the 1990s, the split and confrontation between the languages of neo-modernism and the artistic practices of provocation and revolt intensified. These two decades were also characterised by the internationalization of Portuguese artists (the Venice and São Paulo biennales, Documenta in Kassel) and the expansion of the art market. The work of the homeostéticos (Pedro Proença), bad painting (Julião Sarmento) or abstract neo-expressionism (João Jacinto) saw a return to painting that took the form of neo-expressionism with situationist outlines. In sculpture, the dichotomies between matter and the metaphysical, and form and perception, were developed (Pedro Cabrita Reis, Rui Sanches, José Pedro Croft, Rui Serra). Photography underwent a process of profound renovation and growth either through the reinvention of its traditional genres (Paulo Nozolino, Jorge Molder) or their formal transgression (Júlia Ventura). During the 1990s, genres were mocked and fused via categories such as drawing (Jorge Queiroz, João Queiroz), the introduction of sculpture as a critical working model (Ângela Ferreira, Miguel Palma), the rupture of photography with the tradition of formal models of representation (João Tabarra, Augusto Alves da Silva) or the use of video to establish new narratives (João Penalva). (Emília Tavares)


Portuguese art entered the new millennium with an unrivalled degree of vitality and plurality, emerging as a fully integrated part of the globalising and alternative map that characterises contemporaneity. The emancipation of forms of media and their various overlappings was reiterated, and the art of the last decade gave a privileged place to transferences between areas of knowledge, primarily using the installation, video, film, photography and internet platforms. The questioning of the representative tradition in the areas of gender and sexuality, already evident in the late 1970s (Julião Sarmento), was reformulated in the work of João Pedro Vale, Vasco Araújo, Ana Pérez-Quiroga and Gabriel Abrantes. New principles were established for the manipulated and illusory/transitory nature of the representation of reality (the photographic work of Edgar Martins and Nuno Cera) and for the material visual nature of photography (José Luís Neto). Video became established as a vehicle by which to incorporate popular, technological, individual culture in the artistic discourse, whether in its conceptual complexity (Alexandre Estrela), in the transitory nature of its meanings (João Onofre), in the reinvention of the idea of simulation (João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva)or as a space of confrontation and dialectic testimony (Filipa César).(Emília Tavares)