Hélio Oiticica

  • Born 1937 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Died 1980 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hélio Oiticica’s investigations into the essence of art led him to challenge the boundaries between art, life, and the viewer. He began his artistic career in 1954, studying painting under Ivan Serpa at the Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum) in Rio de Janeiro. In 1955 he became a member of Grupo Frente and started to participate in numerous Concrete and Neoconcrete art exhibitions, then joined the Neoconcrete movement in 1959. In 1970 he received a Guggenheim fellowship, which enabled him to move to New York, where he lived from 1970 to 1978. Throughout his career he questioned the two-dimensional picture plane (“Metaesquemas” [Metaschemes], 1957–58) and explored viewer participation (“Bilaterais” [Bilateral], 1959), ephemeral materials, the dimensions of color (“Invenções” [Inventions], 1959-62), and multisensory art (“Bólides,” or exploding meteors). Important among his series are the “Parangolés” (mobile sculptures, costumes) and “Penetrables” (walkable color installations), both of which were part of his seminal work Tropicália (1967), an immersive installation that gave its name to the Tropicalismo movement. Besides being a visual artist, Oiticica was also a prolific writer on art theory.

Artworks by Hélio Oiticica in the exhibition