By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – São Paulo is always surprising. But when it comes to the fine arts landscape, surprises can happen at every corner: art galleries, rooms, centers, and museums seem to pop up all over the city, and, in the past ten years, they have been getting more numerous and more diverse.
Although the “beaux-arts” have for a long time been a privilege of the elites, one will undoubtedly be impressed on how democratic São Paulo’s immense art landscape can be – including alternative galleries selling artworks for lower prices and traditional museums with free entrance seven days a week.
In this guide, The Rio Times has selected the fine arts places not to miss in São Paulo. If you are an appreciator of painting, drawing and sculpture, prepare yourself to dive deep into the inspiring art world that São Paulo offers.
Likely to be the first museum to cross the mind of every local in this city, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, or MASP, is broadly considered “ground zero” of São Paulo’s fine arts. A one-of-a-kind building amidst the Paulista Avenue’s several stern skyscrapers, MASP stands out for its striking architecture and compelling history.
Projected by renowned modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi and founded by Assis Chateaubriand, one of Brazil’s most influential magnates, MASP is known for owning a respectable collection that includes internationally famous masterpieces by Van Gogh, Renoir, Picasso, Monet, among others.
As 2019 is dedicated to female artists and the feminist debate, MASP is currently hosting three exhibitions honoring the life and work of three Brazilian artists: Tarsila do Amaral, Djanira da Motta e Silva, and MASP’s architect Lina Bo Bardi. MASP’s offers free entrance every Tuesday, all day long. But due to extensive queues on this day, make sure to arrive early.
Also a classic from the fine arts scene, Pinacoteca de São Paulo is a great idea for those looking for a triple program: beside Pinacoteca lies the quaint Parque da Luz and the historical Luz train station, inaugurated in 1867, with its architecture remaining very true to the original.
But Pinacoteca itself is already worth the visit. Inside a 1905 building with bare brick walls and elegant greek columns, one can appreciate the wonders of Brazilian painting. Under the cozy skylight of Pinacoteca, one can find pieces by Almeida Júnior, Antonio Parreiras, Victor Brecheret, Tarsila do Amaral, and Di Cavalcanti, some of the greatest painters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Brazil.
Apart from its permanent exhibitions, Pinacoteca is now showcasing “Ernesto Neto: Sopro” and “Arthur Lecher: Suspensão”. Pinacoteca offers free entrance on Saturdays and charges R$5 (half-entrance) and R$10 from Wednesday to Monday.
Inside the famous Ibirapuera Park, fine art lovers may not miss stopping by the Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art (MAM). Projected by Oscar Niemeyer, a master of Brazil’s modernist architecture, this museum showcases top-notch exhibitions on Brazil’s modern and contemporary artistic production.
Right now, MAM is showcasing “Baile de Máscaras”, “Os anos em que vivemos em perigo”, “Projeto Parede: Paisagem Moderna” and “Passado/Futuro/Presente: Arte contemporânea brasileira no acervo do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo”.
Apart from the exhibition rooms, the MAM has a library, a garden of sculptures and offers lectures and workshops throughout the year. The entrance is free every Saturday, and the ticket costs R$3,50 and R$7 on other days. Visitors might also be interested in the Museu Afro Brasil, which showcases an extremely valuable collection on the Afro-Brazilian art and culture.
In the middle of São Paulo’s historical center lies Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. Known for its eclectic art program, including cinema, theater, and concerts, CCBB is a true reference for the visual arts scene. For those who want to know what’s on in the art world, CCBB is always a good idea. All of CCBB’s exhibitions are free every day of the week.
Those into an outdoor experience will definitely enjoy Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia, MUBE, in Jardim Europa. In this garden/museum, beautifully designed by renowned landscape architect Burle Marx, it is possible to appreciate stunning sculptures by important Brazilian artists and even take free yoga classes on Saturdays. There is also a free entrance at MUBE, which opens from Tuesday to Sunday.
If painting is your preference, visiting Museu Lasar Segall is simply mandatory. Former residence of Lasar Segall, the Lithuanian modernist painter who moved to Brazil in the 1920s, the museum hosts both permanent and temporary exhibitions. Some of Segall’s most special drawings and paintings belong exclusively to this museum, which also offers free movie sessions, a quaint café and several visual art courses. The entrance at Museu Lasar Segall is also free, and they are open from Wednesday to Monday.
For more museum options in São Paulo, also check Museu da Casa Brasileira, dedicated to Brazil’s design and architecture; Museu da Imagem e do Som, on the audiovisual production in Brazil; Instituto Moreira Sales, about photography; and Casa das Rosas, focused on literature and poetry.
As São Paulo’s artistic experience could not be complete without visiting its galleries, we have selected a couple among the most talked about in this city.
The very first contemporary art gallery founded in São Paulo, Luisa Strina, gathers finesse and tradition in the fancy neighborhood of Cerqueira César. Promoting the work of 42 Brazilian and foreign artists, including both emerging and internationally renowned names, Luisa Strina is an overwhelming artistic experience, especially for selective art buyers.
In Pinheiros, FACE is a great idea for those looking for an in-depth experience of Brazil’s modern and popular art. Also situated in this neighborhood is Galeria Virgílio, which shares the space with a nice cultural center, b_arco. At Virgílio’s, one can appreciate the work of contemporary artists, mainly those who have started in the 1980s.
The iconic Copan building is home to a famous gallery in São Paulo: Pivô. With out-of-the-box exhibitions, Pivô is also a place to participate in art workshops and lectures. The Ornitorrinco gallery, the first in Brazil dedicated to the art of illustration, is another worth the visit.
If you feel like discovering the promising names of the future of Brazil’s art scene, do not miss TATO, a gallery in Pompéia for emerging artists. At Ponder70, it is easy to feel at home as this gallery showcases art in a pretty welcoming house in Paraíso.