In the first colonial cities, often drawn by military architects (Recife, 1526; Olinda, 1531; Salvador, 1549; São Paulo, 1554; Rio de Janeiro, 1567), architectural activity is closely linked to religious orders, especially that of Jesuits, who from the middle of the century. XVI spread the European styles, according to the Portuguese forms. An autonomous architectural activity developed only at the end of the century. XVII. In 1690 the discovery of gold enhanced the mountain areas, where intense building activity began: especially in the region of Minas Gerais, new cities were founded (São João Del Rey, 1701; Mariana, 1709; Sabará, 1711; Tiradentes, 1718; Diamantina, 1730; Congonhas do Campo), sometimes built entirely according to Baroque regulatory plans (Ouro Preto). In these areas a richly decorative and picturesque tendency prevails, which manifests itself in the high-relief sculptures, in the concave and convex pediments, in the large windows, in the lively chromatism of the pink and green stone members on the white background of the walls; the plants are usually quite simple. On the coast (Bahia, Recife, Olinda, Belém, Rio de Janeiro) the plants have a greater complexity, while the external forms are more unadorned. Later the picturesque style of Minas Gerais, already clearly Rococo, also influenced the coast. According to computergees, the greatest Brazilian architect of the eighteenth century is AF Lisboa, called Aleijadinho, who was active in Ouro Preto, Mariana, Santa Luzia, Sabará, São João Del Rey. The mestizo architect and sculptor V. Fonseca e Silva (1750-1813) was active in Rio. The architecture of the century. XIX is characterized by eclecticism, while urban planning presents a greater interest: new cities were founded in relation to new sources of economic wealth. But Brazil acquires a leading position internationally by joining modern artistic currents. The initiator of modern Brazilian architecture is Lucio Costa who, in 1936, with a group of rationalist architects (including O. Niemeyer and AE Reidy) designed the Ministry of Education and Health of Rio de Janeiro and called to Brazil Le Corbusier for supervision. Of AE Reidy we remember, in Rio, the Pedregulho complex (1947-55) and important public works, such as the National Theater (1951) and the Museum of Modern Art (1954-67, in collaboration with R. Burle Marx). But the greatest Brazilian architect is probably O. Niemeyer, who offers a very personal variant of Le Corbusier’s rationalism and who is the author of public buildings and residential districts in Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto, Belo Horizonte (Pampulha complex, 1943), São Paulo (Copan housing unit, 1951), Diamantina. The Brazilian architectural renewal finds its culmination in the urban planning experiment of Brasília, built starting from 1956, the plan of which is by Lucio Costa, while the most important buildings were made by Niemeyer.
In painting the most notable personality of the Baroque was the Flemish Benedictine Ricardo do Pilar (d. 1700) who left many works in his convent of São Bento in Rio de Janeiro. A current of portraiture and landscape probably originated from the Dutch occupation of Brazil (Prince Maurice of Nassau, in Brazil in 1637-44, brought with him the painters F. Post and A. van den Eckout). But also painting, like other artistic forms, had an authentic flowering only in the eighteenth century, especially in the decoration of churches. In Rio the greatest painters were J. de Oliveira, C. de Costa Coelho, J. de Souzo, M. da Cunha, L. Joaquim and M. Dias de Oliveira (the latter a pupil of P. Batoni and already neoclassical). In the region of Bahia JJ de Rocha founded a remarkable school of perspective (church of the Concezione de Praia, Salvador, 1778). Other painters active in Brazil were the Portuguese J. Soares de Aranjo in Diamantina and M. da Costa Ataíde in Ouro Prêto (vaults of the Franciscan church). In 1816 a French artistic commission, called to Brazil by John VI, spread neoclassical academicismin sculpture and romantic tendencies in painting. Contemporary Brazilian sculptors and painters have inserted themselves with great vitality in modern artistic currents: particularly São Paulo, a lively center of relations with the European avant-gardes since the 1920s, especially after the foundation (1951) of the Biennale d’Arte, has become the most important meeting point between Brazilian artists and international art movements. In the mid-twentieth century, the Museum of Modern Art, the Assis Chateaubriand Art Museum in São Paulo itself and the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art also arose, which gave further impetus to the development of the figurative arts. In the painting of the twentieth century the most representative names are those of Emiliano Di Cavalcanti (1897-1976), Candido Portinari (1903-1962), forerunner of a style based on the fusion between subjects and landscapes of rural and popular Brazil with the forms of European abstractionism, Ivan Serpa (1923-1973); to mention the engravings by Carlos Oswald (1882-1971), Lívio Abramo (1903-1992), Lasar Segall (1891-1957) and the sculptures of Franz Weissmann (1911-2005), Iole de Freitas (1945), Rubem Valentim (1922-1991). Contemporary artists include Cildo Meireles (b.1948), Tunga (b.1952), Cybèle Varela (b.1943), author of paintings, photographs, videos, installations, Amélia Toledo, Regina Siveira, Antonio Dias (b. 1944), Anna Bella Geiger. Lasar Segall (1891-1957) and the sculptures of Franz Weissmann (1911-2005), Iole de Freitas (1945), Rubem Valentim (1922-1991). Contemporary artists include Cildo Meireles (b.1948), Tunga (b.1952), Cybèle Varela (b.1943), author of paintings, photographs, videos, installations, Amélia Toledo, Regina Siveira, Antonio Dias (b. 1944), Anna Bella Geiger. Lasar Segall (1891-1957) and the sculptures of Franz Weissmann (1911-2005), Iole de Freitas (1945), Rubem Valentim (1922-1991). Contemporary artists include Cildo Meireles (b.1948), Tunga (b.1952), Cybèle Varela (b.1943), author of paintings, photographs, videos, installations, Amélia Toledo, Regina Siveira, Antonio Dias (b. 1944), Anna Bella Geiger.