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Hélio Oiticica

(1937 - 1980)

Hélio Oiticica is a Brazilian Neo-Concrete artist whose work ranges from abstract geometric paintings to large-scale site specific works. His most famous installations, Tropicalia and Eden (1967), Oiticica aims to create a counter-capital, filled with references to Brazilian life through the favelas and the perception of how bodies move in samba through his Penetrables structures. The works exemplify the artist’s interest in how visitors should participate with art and create culture on their own terms. “The museum is the world,” he once remarked. “It is the everyday experience.” Born on January 26, 1937 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Oiticica studied painting under Ivan Serpa at the Brazilian Museum of Modern Art. In 1959, Oiticica became involved in the Neo-Concrete movement alongside artists like Lygia Clark and Franz Weissman. Although the group disbanded a mere two years later, it shaped the future of Conceptual Art and heavily informed the rest of the artist’s career. He would later go on to be one of the founders of a Tropicalia movement, consisting of visual and non-visual artists whose staunch opposition to Brazil’s dictatorship at the time heavily informed their works. Oiticica died on March 22, 1980 at the age of 42 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Tate Modern in London, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., and The Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others.

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