A MASP exhibition of Tarsila do Amaral's work broke attendance records and dethroned Claude Monet. Approximately 402.850 people visited the São Paulo's art museum to see the Brazilian modernist's work, breaking a 1997 record—401.201—held by the French impressionist.
Last week, when it reached 350,000 visitors, Tarsila had already become the most seen Brazilian artist in the Paulista Avenue Museum. The exhibit became a social media favorite and had to expand its opening hours.
This exhibit gave people more than the instant gratification of posting a selfie. Crowds were enticed by Tarsila's colors and sought Masp's galleries for a sensation that something usually so inaccessible was so close to home. The "Abaporu," the target of so many cell phones, became a tropical relative of the Mona Lisa, a great Louvre masterpiece.
If the Louvre museum is a royal palace, then the modernist building built by Lina Bo Bardi on Paulista Avenue is a temple of the most heroic phase of our architectural vanguard--a floating glass box as transparent as it is impenetrable.
This show succeeded in the worst of times for culture in Brazil. Yes, the R $40 ticket was exorbitant - too expensive for the lower classes. But the word "museum" seems like a bad word in a country that is experiencing its worst attacks on culture. Never before has a show by a Brazilian artist been so visited and never has Brazil been so shameless in establishing itself as a great empire of stupidity.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon