Today was a really fun day – it began with our first breakfast in Brazil, and included various breads, cold meats and cheeses, cereal, juice, coffee, and fruits, including papaya! Very healthy and reasonable fare. The main goal today was to visit the MASP – the Museu de Arte São Paulo – on SP’s principal shopping thoroughfare, Avenida Paulista. This first required a one-mile walk, uphill, however, in order to get to the Metro station where we had our first subway ride (for some, first EVER subway ride [Michelle!]). Then onto the MASP itself, a strikingly-designed, easily-identified building in red, where students and professors are admitted at less than ½ price (7 reais instead of 15 [= $3.50 instead of $7.50]) and seniors 60 and over are free! [We had one of those…] What a culturally progressive system, to, as is often done in the rest of the world, discount arts admissions for the education and “aged” populations!
One of Brazil’s finest museums, MASP holds an impressive collection of European masters and early Modernist paintings, reminiscent to some of us of Fort Worth’s Kimbell collection. Turns out, a Brazilian of Italian extraction, Pietro Maria Bardi, scouted around Europe between 1947 and 1953 and bought the now priceless works of Degas, Van Gogh, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Turner, Titian, Bellini and Raphael we saw today at absurdly low prices. By the 1960’s, the works had become so important that Bardi had to persuade the São Paulo authorities to build a gallery to house them! There were two main exhibits on display – the first, entitled The Triumph of Detail and Then, Nothing, took the tack of positing that, for a very long time, art was, first and foremost, the art of the detail, of reproducing detail or creating imaginary details – the precision of a clock on the table, a flower, a smile, etc. The great control of detail was one of the marked signs of the artist’s value. Then followed a time when the detail began to dissolve and, with it, painting as a whole. After that, a third time came when detail almost entirely leaves the scene. It was fun to see this idea demonstrated again and again by MASP’s rich collection, often in paintings side-by-side.
The second MASP exhibit was the same one a number of us had seen when it was presented at the Modern Art Music of Fort Worth this past year: Lucian Freud, Corpos e Rostros (drawings and paintings)! It is on display here until the end of this month.
For lunch, 22 of us (2 had stayed home recouping from the long previous day) followed around Dr A like an amoeba, up and down streets looking for just the right restaurant to accommodate us all. That turned out to be Casa de Lanches Madaluse Lida – a glorified hamburger joint, really, but with many, many variations on that theme, including Brazilian and African-style ‘burgers. Plus an opportunity to sample the local (Brahma) beer!
MASP allows repeated exits and entrances on the same day with the same ticket, so a number of us took advantage of that option and returned to the museum after lunch, spending another 1.5 hrs.
What we didn’t know was that, once we left MASP, the fun had really only just begun! As soon as a decision was made by professor Cubela to cook dinner for 13 of us, or about ½ the Wesleyan crowd at the hostel, it was all downhill from there! He lovingly prepared a huge saucepan full one of his many culinary specialties, this one called peccadillo – a mixture of ground beef, spices, green olives and other tantalizing tastes, over a bed of white rice. It was a home run – all the rice and all the peccadillo disappeared within a few minutes. Great fun, surrounded by festive party atmosphere, and sumptuous food! What more could you ask for on day #2!