This article analyzes the rhetorical and discursive resonance of the claims by artists and art professionals in Brazil in the 1950s of a connection to the Bauhaus. I examine the curricula of two new art schools established in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, emphasizing the role of central figures, including Mário Pedrosa, and the works by artists trained at the schools, and study paintings by Lygia Clark that in part elicited Alfred H. Barr, Jr. in 1957 to dismiss Brazilian contemporary art as “Bauhaus exercises.” Rather than a case of imitation, as Barr suggested, Brazilian actors transformed Bauhaus ideas, mediated by Cold War re-interpretations of the German school and its approaches to artistic education, to articulate tactics of citation and adaptation and to assert a non-derivative, radical conception of modernism.

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