It's 22 behind a ball. In 1922, the year of the Modern Art Week, the players of the Brazilian football team were running after the "pelota" to win their second international tournament, the South American Championship. In 2022, the year of the World Cup in Qatar, the National Team seeks the sixth championship in the FIFA global competition.
On the nights of February 13, 15 and 17, 1922, the Municipal Theater of São Paulo hosted an art festival, with an exhibition of paintings, poetry recitations, literary conferences and music recitals. A group of young people, in tune with the international avant-garde and supported by the city's patrons, set out to review the traditional ways of writing and making art in Brazil. The imposing theatre, inaugurated in 1911, was located in the vicinity of the Anhangabaú Valley, decorated with gardens and statues, with an art nouveau-style viaduct equipped with iron metal structures.
In Rio de Janeiro, the year 1922 was marked by the celebrations of the Centenary of the Independence of Brazil. To this end, a large International Exhibition was organized, and a number of discussions on national identity were triggered. Sports were not far behind, and several international sports tournaments and competitions were held in the country to celebrate the official commemorative date.
Two years after the Modern Art Week, the Rio de Janeiro newspaper Correio da Manhã published the “Manifesto da Poesia Pau-Brasil” [“Brazilwood Poetry Manifesto”] on March 18, 1924. Oswald de Andrade, author of the manifesto, then released it as a book, with drawings by Tarsila do Amaral. To the poetry of import, so practiced until then, the Oswaldian recipe contrasted the poem of export, with the freshness of a vegetable totem, made of dye-wood, the first exported product and the fascination of the new land. According to one of Oswald’s quotes, spatial alterity allowed him to see better, with “free eyes”: “If anything I brought back from my trips to Europe between two wars, it was Brazil itself.”
Tarsila do Amaral and Oswald de Andrade became two icons in the history of Brazilian modernism. During the 1920s they were married and traveled through the inland of Brazil and the world, in decisive experiences for the definition of their aesthetic avant-garde projects. Together, they idealized Anthropophagy, a modernist strand that advocated the meeting of technical-scientific modernity with ancestral cultural sources. These, in the Brazilian case, referred to the values, traditions and practices of the native peoples. Based on accounts from travelers from the 16th and 17th centuries, Oswald highlighted the habit of anthropophagy, in which indigenous rituals for capturing the colonizers ended with the sacrifice of those imprisoned. The natives followed this rite with the ingestion of human flesh, under the belief of appropriating the strength and virtues of the enemies.
Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) and Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959) were two artists who actively participated in the Modern Art Week and became references of Brazilian culture in the following decades. Born in São Paulo, Mário headed the city's Department of Culture, having collaborated in the design of the Pacaembu sports complex in the 1930s. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1938, and lived for 4 years in the federal capital, where he collaborated in the creation of cultural policies for the Getúlio Vargas government. In 1939, he went to watch a match of the Brazilian National Team for the Copa Roca, in the portentous stadium São Januário. The writer considered the experience of the match to be “fabulous”, from the movement of people on the buses towards the stadium packed with fans, to the involving dynamics of the dispute between the teams. The match evokes in Mário images of ancient Greece and evokes plastic metaphors of a “myrific ballet” of players, who in his view look…
One of the icons of contemporary avant-garde art in Brazil, plastic artist Rubens Gerchman composed Garrincha – an aesthetic football series using serigraphy to outline the bust of the Botafogo and Brazilian national team idol. Photograph: Rubens Gerchman | Instituto Rubens Gerchman.
The composer Alfredo da Rocha Vianna Filho (1897-1973), better known as Pixinguinha, was inspired by the dramatic final of the 1919 South American Championship to compose the choro 1-0. It was an allusion to the exciting victory of the Brazilian National Team over the Uruguayans that year. The decisive goal was scored by forward Friedenreich, and it only happened in the second half of extra time, which gave even more drama to the conquest of the tournament, played for the first time in Brazil, at the Laranjeiras stadium.
Arthur Friedenreich is among the most prominent Brazilian idols at the time of amateurism, during the 1910s and 1920s, in a long trajectory that lasted until the beginning of the 1930s. Fried, as he was known, was São Paulo's top scorer nine times and won international titles for the national team, such as the South Americans of 1919 and 1922. Nicknamed “El Tigre” for his exploits in the matches against Uruguayans and Argentines, he was praised for his ability to make body dribbles, goals tipping the ball over the goalkeeper and feints with one-two passes.
In 1923, Tarsila do Amaral painted the canvas A negra, a milestone in the affirmation of her artistic career in the history of modernism. The moment of appearance of the canvas is propitious for us to think about how the racial question in the 1920s was configured as a broad and important subject.
Francisco Rebolo Gonsales (1902-1980) is an exceptional case of a player-painter that the history of modernism bequeathed to us. Rebolo worked as an apprentice home decorator in downtown São Paulo. The son of Spanish immigrants, from poor origins, he had been a semi-professional soccer player since 1917, starting his career in the Associação Atlética São Bento team.
In 1922, the idol goalkeeper of the Brazilian team decided to retire from football . An amateur icon during the sport's so-called belle époque, Marcos Carneiro de Mendonça represented an entire football era that symbolically ended that year.
In the beginning was the verb: to twist. Sports writers of the 1920s are credited with fixing the word torcedor (fan). The root of the word Torcedor, which literally means (Twister), Torcedor which in Portuguese is the word for Fan, refers to the observation of the behavior of spectators in the stands of belle époque stadiums, with the act of women twisting handkerchiefs, or gloves, at decisive moments of the matches, twisting the object in their hands and also the whole body.
In 1933, Tarsila do Amaral presented one of her best-known paintings: Workers. In it, workers are arranged in the foreground, with emphasis on the contiguous faces of men and women of different ethnicities, which line up in an ascending format and composes, as a block, a kind of pyramid. The scenery has industrial buildings in the background, with chimneys that pour smoke into the horizon and gray the blue sky.
One of the origins of football in São Paulo goes back to Várzea do Carmo, in the central region of São Paulo, adjacent to the convent of the same name. The space was frequently affected by the floods of the Tamanduateí River, and it is said that it was in this marshy land that Charles Miller introduced the practice of football in the last years of the 19th century. In the first decades of the following century, the amateur teams organized themselves under the competitive form of leagues and went to play in regular fields, with their respective stadiums, such as the Velodromo, in the neighborhood of Consolação, where the Prado family founded in 1900 the first Club Athletico Paulistano headquarters.
For 50 years, between approximately the 1870s and 1920s, Brazil witnessed an intense influx of immigrants who arrived in large cities and in the inland of the country. Projects to populate geographic voids and territories with supposed shortages of labor aimed to progressively replace slave labor.The different immigrant communities –Italians, Germans, Spaniards and Japanese, among others –brought with them their habits and practices, among them the sociability around leisure and sports inthe clubs in the colony. Significant contingents of these communities came together to create social and recreational associations, such as S. C. Germânia, C. Esperia, C. Espanhol, Palestra Itália, Portuguesa de Desportos and many others. Many of these clubs turned to amateur football and, decades later, professional football.In these nuclei of immigrants that attract segments of the middle class and the most economically favored, there were significant contingents that would give rise to the…
“Outside the moonlight continues / And the train divides Brazil / Like a meridian.” In the 1920s, Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954) composed these lines for the poem Noturno, in which he alludes to the most important means of transport at the time. Since the second half of the 19thcentury, the railroads have been fundamental in the flow of production from farms in the inland to the ports of coastal capitals, allowing geographic penetration and the displacement of people across the vastness of the national territory. Rendezvous and flowing spots, the train stations also make possible the emergence of population centers and countless inland cities.This powerful invention, the result of the Industrial Revolution and a landmark of British imperial power, is still decisive for the “conquest of Brazil by football”, according to the expression of the…