Ideas of Reality: Antonio Dias between Rio de Janeiro, Paris, and Milan

Despite the fact that the growing reception of Antonio Dias (b. 1944) in the English-speaking world is happening under the sign of global art history, the trajectory of the Brazilian artist in the 1960s and 1970s actually suggests both a counter-genealogy and a counter-geography of the global. This essay explores this situation by recontextualizing Dias’s emergence vis-à-vis the critical debate on realism and underdevelopment that marked the Rio de Janeiro avant-gardist scene of the mid- to late-1960s and involved writers such as Ferreira Gullar, Hélio Oiticica, Mário Pedrosa, Pierre Restany, and Frederico Morais. It subsequently argues that such critical terms simultaneously both change and remain crucial as Dias moves away from Brazil, first to Paris, late in 1966, and then to Milan, in 1968, inflecting the artist’s recourse to the English language and his turn to painting as his preferred medium even as he began to circulate amongst artists associated with Arte Povera and Conceptualism in Europe.

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