Jorge Oteiza won the International Sculpture Prize at the IV São Paulo Biennial, held in 1957. In that edition, he shared the prize list with artists such as Giorgio Morandi or Ben Nicholson. Fifty years after this cultural meeting was held, the Oteiza Museum analyzes and reconstructs the edition of this event, one of the most prestigious international events, and contrasts the aesthetic contributions of the artists who attended this edition and marked the history of the event .
The exhibition proposes a look back in time, towards a moment of profound change in which the last remnants of the historical avant-garde coexisted with the incipient plastic trends that renewed the expressive languages of art at the end of the 20th century. The exhibition thus presents a historical perspective and the story starring the crossroads of the artists gathered in Sao Paulo, a geography that Oteiza then called «Memory of the Future».
The exhibition is made up of 65 pieces and is articulated around two essential axes. The first of them reconstructs and analyzes the national art context of the time with the reconstruction of the pavilion that represented Spain in the Brazilian contest and in which, in addition to Oteiza, such significant artists as Antoni Tàpies, Luis Feito, Manuel Rivera or Manuel Millares, these last three belonging to the «El Paso» group, which had been formed that same year. In addition to these “artists with an abstract tendency”, as the curator of the Pavilion Luis González Robles called them, authors who started from forms indebted to figurative expression, such as José Vento, Franciso Capuleto or Josep Guinovart, represented Spain. Each artist presented a maximum of 10 works, except for Oteiza, who came to São Paulo with 28 sculptures, belonging to 10 experimental families, with which he received the International Sculpture Award at the contest. In this exhibition, 25 of his sculptures are presented, among them he recovers the piece Spatial Expansion, unpublished since his presence in São Paulo. Oteiza called his work Experimental Purpose 1956-57 and, in it, Oteiza posits the aesthetic nature of the statue as a purely spatial organism: “I imagine I will find myself here with the 10 sculptures that I was asked for. In truth, it is only one. A single thought to project the Statue as Active Unoccupation of space, by fusion of open formal units”.
The second reference contextualizes Oteiza’s work together with that of the rest of the winners of the IV Biennial, such as Giorgio Morandi (Grand Prize of that edition), Ben Nicholson (International Painting Prize) or artists such as Frans Krajcberg (best national painter award ), Franz Weissmann (best national sculptor award), Fayga Ostrower (best national engraver award), Wega Nery and Gomes Pinto (ex aequo awards for best national cartoonist) and Yozo Hamaguchi (best foreign engraver award).
The exhibition is completed with numerous written and photographic documentation referring to the presence of Oteiza and the artists of the Spanish Pavilion in São Paulo, as well as information from the press and Spanish and Brazilian magazines referring to the Award received by Oteiza.