Edited by Sarah Hermanson Meister
184 pages, hardcover, $45
Published by the Museum of Modern Art, New York
In late 2021, the Museum of Modern Art, New York hosted the first museum exhibition of Brazilian modernist photography outside of Brazil. More than 60 photographs made up the exhibit, itself part of a push to address art and artists marginalized by Eurocentric discourse. Fotoclubismo: Brazillian Modernist Photography and The Foto-Cine Clube Bandeirante, 1946-1964 is one of the fruits of that effort. Published in conjunction with the exhibit, the 184-page photobook centers around the Foto-Cine Clube Bandeirante (FCCB), a coterie of photographers in postwar São Paolo. Curated by Sarah Hermanson Meister, Fotoclubismo meticulously documents the history of the FCCB as a whole while also delving into the life and work of more accomplished members like Tomaz Farkas and Gertrudes Altschul. Meister’s writing and exhaustive footnotes not only provide crucial cultural context but also offer a compelling portrait of this fragile moment in Brazilian art, wedged between the fall of Getúlio Vargas’s dictatorship and the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état.
All of this is not to overlook the photographs themselves, which, make no mistake, are the stars of the show. All of the images are black and white, but within that medium, the book exhibits a startling breadth of style and technique. While FCCB members were primarily amateur photographers, they were both internally competitive and cognizant of the wider world of photography, even if that world barely acknowledged them. Fotoclubismo is a stirring testament to the vision and ambition of these overlooked photographers and their moment in time. —Dzana Tsomondo