A Way of Being Modern: Almada Negreiros at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
“To be modern is just like being elegant: it is not a way of dressing, but a way of being”. Written on the walls of one of the exhibition rooms at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, these words, pronounced by Portuguese modernist artist Almada Negreiros in 1927 are representative of the unique mindset of a multifaceted genius. Effervescently creative, extremely prolific, Almada Negreiros experimented various artistic expressions during his life. A plastic artist, writer, actor, performer, set designer and dancer, to José de Almada Negreiros (1893-1970) art had no limits. To him, life and art were most likely seen as one. Almada, as he is popularly known in Portugal, is the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, one of Lisbon’s cultural icons. The exhibition opened early in February and runs until June.
One genius, 400 works: Almada Negreiros at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
25 years after the last show devoted to Almada Negreiros at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation José de Almada Negreiros- A Way of Being Modern is an authoritative exhibition. Assembling more than 400 works by the artist, including paintings, drawings, posters, books, magazines, stained glass reproductions, ceramic panels, cinematic investigations and graphic narratives, it is the most comprehensive show on his work to date. The comprehensive exhibition is organized around 8 thematic nuclei spanning Almada’s prolific and diverse artistic production. Almada believed in an ever-present modernity: in public buildings, in the streets, in newspapers, stores, the cinema and the arts. The artist, to him, was the main agent of this plural, all-encompassing movement. Through a myriad of collaborations with architects, writers, publishers, musicians and theatre directors Almada fully expressed modernity and modernism as a way of life.
The total modernist: Almada Negreiros at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Arguably the leading figure of Portuguese modernism, he was the embodiment of the total artist. A kind of 20th century Renaissance Man, Almada Negreiros was a restless spirit, spontaneous and rapid, a true man of genius. The Almada Negreiros exhibition at C. Gulbenkian Foundation includes many previously unseen works by the artist. Among the central themes of the exhibition are the mathematical and geometrical insights of his paintings, the numerous works he produced for public buildings in the city of Lisbon, and his unique, often hilarious investigations in graphic narrative and cinema. Also, the importance of self-portrait in his impressive body of work is examined.
Almada Negreiros at Fundação Gulbenkian proposes a fresh, innovative look into one of the most creative and productive Portuguese artists. At the light of this show Almada’s place in the history of modernism(s) is thus completely reevaluated.
Almada Negreiros at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation: in the city
Expanding the Almada Negreiros exhibition at Gulbenkian Foundation is an ambitious and wide-ranging parallel program that celebrates the versatility of his oeuvre all throughout the city. Covering the different aspects of Almada Negreiro’s intense artistic production, this program includes a play – Antes de Começar – and a music show, a multimedia work around the life of Almada Negreiros, a film cycle at the Cinemateca Portuguesa, round-tables and guided visits to buildings where his frescoes and ceramic panels can be seen, such as the Gare Marítima de Alcântara. This multilayered, electrifying experience of Almada Negreiros incredibly varied universe is perhaps the best way to discover what “being modern” ultimately meant for him.