Rio de Janeiro Art Guide

In the past few years, Rio de Janeiro has been covered in the media in regards to protests, massive urban development, and spending in anticipation of the 2016 Summer Olympics, particularly in contrast to the neglect of many socioeconomic disparity and urban problems. Many artists in the region—including collectives like Cachorro Vinagre and Mídia NINJA—have stepped up to address the situations that haven't been addressed by the state, much like the city's infrastructure in terms of art and museums, which is dominated by the private sector or is reliant on private collections and investments.

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The Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) is a great place to begin witnessing both historical and contemporary art production. MAR is broken up into two sections: one for exhibitions and the other for education, working towards the latter with the city's department of education and other education department branches. The museum's collection and exhibitions draws from both historical and contemporary art, with a focus on Brazilian artists. Highlights from the collection and exhibitions include works by Louise Bourgeois, Anna Maria Maiolino, and Rosana Paulino, amongst others.

Established in 1948, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro defines itself as an art centre and includes a school for art and theater in addition to exhibition halls. Like the unfortunate 2018 fire at the National Museum of Brazil, with its collection of more than 20 million historical objects, most of the collection (Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, René Magritte) was lost to a 1978 fire. Its remaining impressive collection includes works by Latin American and international artists and is broken up into three sections: the museum's original collection, revamped through donations and acquisitions; the loaned Gilberto Chateaubriand collection, focusing on Brazilian art from the emergence of modernism in Brazil to contemporary works; and the Joaquim Paiva collection, which is exclusively comprised of photography. Its current collection's international highlights include Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, and Keith Haring.

For the architecturally minded, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is housed in a structure designed by leading Modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer in 1996. Best known for its panoramic views, the museum also has an impressive schedule of programming, with exhibitions that feature Isaac Julien, Joseph Beuys, and more, in addition to the João Sattamini collection, which is one of the key collections of contemporary art in Brazil, with highlights including Aluísio Carvão, Dionísio Del Santo, Lygia Clark, and Ione Saldanha. For even more contemporary-focused spaces, visit galleries such as Anita Schwartz Art Gallery and Galeria Nara Roesler, or ArtRio: the city's leading art fair with a primary focus on participants and artists from Brazil.

Exhibition view: Cássio Vasconcellos, Dryads and Fauns, Rio de Janeiro, Galeria Nara Roesler (5 March–30 May 2020). Courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler. 

Current Exhibitions In Rio de Janeiro

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Contemporary art exhibition, Cássio Vasconcellos, Dryads and Fauns at Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
5 March–30 May 2020 Cássio Vasconcellos Dryads and Fauns Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
Contemporary art exhibition, JR, Patamar at Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
22 November 2019–21 February 2020 JR Patamar Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Reflections on Time and Space at Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro
16 September–2 November 2019 Group Exhibition Reflections on Time and Space Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro

Ocula Member Galleries In Rio de Janeiro

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Contemporary Institutions In Rio de Janeiro

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Rio de Janeiro In Ocula Magazine

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ArtRio 2016 Ocula Photolog ArtRio 2016

ArtRio brought together more than 80 important galleries from Brazil and abroad, in addition to different curatorial projects that reinforce its role as one of the most relevant art events in Latin America. In 2016, the fair has taken place alongside the 32nd Biennial of São Paulo, aimed to reinforce the large flow of international visitors...

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Brenda Valansi Ocula Conversation Brenda Valansi By Camila Belchior, Rio de Janeiro

Brenda Valansi is co-founder of ArtRio, an art fair that for five years has gracefully occupied the Mauá docks facing the picture-perfect Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Valansi spoke to Ocula’s Camila Belchior about this year's event, the Brazilian art market and the second edition of IDA, the design fair also organised by...

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Cai Guo-Qiang Ocula Conversation Cai Guo-Qiang By Laura Thomson, Auckland

Cai Guo-Qiang was born in 1957 in Quanzhou City, Fujian Province, China. He was a child during Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and strongly influenced by society's vision for social utopia. Cai trained in stage design at the Shanghai Theatre Acadmey. He left China in 1986, spending almost 9 years as a young artist in...

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Recent Events In Rio de Janeiro

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Contemporary art exhibition, ArtRio13 at Ocula Private Sales & Advisory, London
5–9 September 2013 ArtRio13

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