12396 - 20170102 - Carnegie Museum of Art stages colorful, spectacular, immersive exhibition of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica - Pittsburgh, PA - 01.10.2017-02.01.2017


Hélio Oiticica, “Metaesquema 4066,” 1958, gouache on cardboard, Digital Image (c) The Museum of Modern Art/Licensed by SCALA / Art Resource, NY.
Visitors to the exhibition of Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) at Carnegie Museum of Art can expect to walk across sand and pebbles, traverse bold, colorful structures, and say hello to a friendly Amazon parrot. That’s part of the experience of Tropicália (1966–67), a massive, multisensory installation at the heart of Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium.

If Tropicália is a kind of journey into the artist’s immersive work, then Eden (1969) is the destination. This huge installation includes spaces and structures for relaxation, reading, conversation, and music. Its surfaces provide tactile experiences for bare feet: strewn with sand or leaves, a pool of water. Occupying the majestic Hall of Sculpture at CMOA, it is rarely staged due to its size and complexity. The exhibition is the most complete retrospective of the artist to date, and the first to explore in depth his New York years (1971–78). Ambitious in scale, it presents a stunning array of paintings, interactive sculptures, audiovisual works, and environments across the museum’s expansive Heinz Galleries and Hall of Sculpture.

One of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Oiticica first painted compositions made of geometric shapes that seemed to dance off the painted surface. He soon moved into creating immersive, experiential works, exploding color into three dimensions. For the artist, these works were completed only when viewers interacted with them. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, Oiticica moved further and further toward art that is intended for the viewer to manipulate, wear, and inhabit, including Parangolés, works to be carried or worn that often contain poetic or political messages only visible when the wearer is in motion, or Penetrables, colorful structures inspired by makeshift dwellings in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. While living in New York, Oiticica extended his work into filmmaking, slide show environments, and concrete poetry. Shortly before his return to Rio he again began inventing structures for human interaction.

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium brings visually arresting, wholly original artwork to Pittsburgh for an experience unlike any other. After its CMOA presentation, the exhibition will travel to the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Hélio Oiticica is organized by Lynn Zelevansky, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art; Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art; James Rondeau, Dittmer Chair and Curator, Department Modern and Contemporary Art, The Art Institute of Chicago; and Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art; with Anna Katherine Brodbeck, Associate Curator, Carnegie Museum of Art.