For all the coverage abstract art in postwar Brazil has received, there have been surprisingly few in-depth, scholarly examinations of it outside of the many texts accompanying exhibitions. Adele Nelson’s Forming Abstraction: Art and Institutions in Postwar Brazil is a rare, detailed scholarly analysis of the dominance of nonobjective abstraction in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro from the 1940s to the late 1950s. In her book, Nelson meticulously investigates the historical circumstances and artistic stakes of the different institutions, exhibitions, and artists that were central to the shift toward abstraction. Incorporating a broad range of sources, including analysis of newsreel footage, installation photographs, and mainstream press, Nelson addresses the conflicting accounts surrounding abstract work. One walks away with the understanding that neither geometric abstraction nor concrete art were rigidly adhered-to dogmas in postwar Brazilian art, but rather came to occupy a critical role in the service of national,...

You do not currently have access to this content.