Whitney Museum of American Art
Wednesday, 12. July 12 | 12–5 pm
Thursday, 13 July 2017 | 12–5 pm
Floor Five
Exhibition: 14. July – 1. October 2017
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014



Hélio Oiticica (1937-1980), P15 Parangolé Cape 11, I Embody Revolt (P15 Parangolé Capa 12, Eu Incorporo a Revolta) worn by Nildo of Mangueira, 1967. Courtesy of César and Claudio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro. © César and Claudio Oiticica. Photograph by Claudio Oiticica.


Whitney Museum of American Art
Talks And Readings
FRI, 14. JUL 2017 | 6:30 pm
Floor Three, Susan and John Hess Family Theater
Exhibition: 14. July – 1. October 2017
99 Gansevoort Street
New York, NY 10014



In 1969, while living in London, and a year before relocating to New York City, the Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica wrote, “I have no place in the world.” In conjunction with the exhibition Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium, this panel discussion considers Oiticica’s work in relation to transnationalism and the politics of aesthetics and explores the significance of his work to contemporary art practices. Speakers include scholars Irene V. Small and Frederico Coelho and artists Matheus Rocha Pitta and Lyle Ashton Harris.


Whitney Museum of American Art
Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is the first full-scale U.S. retrospective in two decades of the Brazilian artist’s work. One of the most original artists of the twentieth century, Oiticica (1937—1980) made art that awakens us to our bodies, our senses, our feelings about being in the world: art that challenges us to assume a more active role. Beginning with geometric investigations in painting and drawing, Oiticica soon shifted to sculpture, architectural installations, writing, film, and large-scale environments of an increasingly immersive nature, works that transformed the viewer from a spectator into an active participant. The exhibition includes some of his large-scale installations, including Tropicalia and Eden, and examines the artist’s involvement with music and literature, as well as his response to politics and the social environment. The show captures the excitement, complexity, and activist nature of Oiticica’s art, focusing in particular on the decisive period he spent in New York in the 1970s, where he was stimulated by the art, music, poetry, and theater scenes. While Oiticica engaged at first with many of the city’s artists, he ended up living in self-fashioned isolation before returning to Brazil. He died in in Rio de Janeiro, in 1980, at the age of 42.

This exhibition is organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; and the Art Institute of Chicago.


Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980), installation view of Tropicália (1966–67) at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, 2016. Plants, sand, birds, and poems by Roberta Camila Salgado, dimensions variable. Collection of César and Claudio Oiticica. © César and Claudio Oiticica. Image courtesy Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Photograph by Bryan Conley


Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium is curated by Lynn Zelevansky, Henry J. Heinz II Director, Carnegie Museum of Art; Elisabeth Sussman, Curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art; James Rondeau, President and Eloise W. Martin Director, Art Institute of Chicago; and Donna De Salvo, Deputy Director for International Initiatives and Senior Curator, Whitney Museum of American Art; with Katherine Brodbeck, Associate Curator, Carnegie Museum of Art.

Support for the national tour of this exhibition is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
In New York, major support is provided by the National Committee of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Generous support is provided by Art&Art Collection, Tony Bechara, the Garcia Family Foundation, and the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation.
Additional support is provided by the Evelyn Toll Family Foundation.
Generous endowment support is also provided by The Keith Haring Foundation Exhibition Fund.

The musical style of Tropicália, which takes its name from Oiticica’s eponymous 1966-67 installation, became a larger artistic and socio-cultural movement in Brazil. After a military coup in 1964, popular music played an integral role in the aesthetic and cultural resistance to the political climate. Music continued to play an important role in Oiticica’s work into his New York years, where he attended rock concerts at the Fillmore East. This playlist is inspired by Tropcália musicians such as Caetano Veloso and GiIberto Gil, as well was the rock and roll musicians like Jimi Hendrix from whom Oiticica took inspiration in the 1970s.



Hélio Oiticica, Metaesquema, Malekledrian, 1958. Gouache on cardboard, 9 3/4 x 6 1/4 in. (24.76 x 15.88 cm). The Ortiz Family. Photograph by Joseph Hu

Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
the most comprehensive retrospective of the Brazilian artist in the United States to date.
One of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, Oiticica created work that sought to awaken the senses by making viewer participation an essential element by which to experience his work. The Whitney Museum of American Art examines in depth Oiticica’s brief yet prolific career, with a particular focus on the decisive period he spent in New York in the 1970s. Oiticica was a pivotal member of the Neo-Concrete group, a movement of Brazilian artists that formed in 1959 seeking to impart the geometric investigations of Concretism with emotion, sensuality, and subjectivity. Between 1954-57, Oiticica was also part of Grupo Frente, a Rio de Janeiro-based artist collective that is the subject of the exhibition currently on view at Galerie Lelong through August 5, 2017.




Hélio Oiticica in front of a poster for Neil Simon’s play The Prisoner of Second Avenue, in Midtown Manhattan, 1972. © César and Claudio Oiticica


To Organize Delirium presents a multifaceted look at Oiticica’s vast body of work, from his geometric abstractions, Metaesquemas, to the translation of ideas into the third dimension. Oiticica’s inquiries into the potential of architectural space include Penetrables and Tropicália (1967), multi-sensorial and colorful structures inspired by the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Tropicália, a large-scale installation featuring sand, gravel, exotic birds, and plants, rebelled against Brazil’s oppressive military dictatorship and rightwing conservatism by embracing a purely Brazilian art. Viewers will also have the opportunity to participate in Oiticica’s interactive works by wearing his Parangolés, works in fabric that reveal political or poetic messages when in motion. These works highlight how Oiticica insisted upon the power and potential of human autonomy and social interaction.

This is the last chance to see the exhibition, which debuted at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, and travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago. Galerie Lelong & Co. is proud to have collaborated with the Projeto Hélio Oiticica since 2005, presenting seminal works such as Penetrables in 2012, Drawings: 1954-58 in 2009, and CC1 Trashiscapes in 2006.






The most comprehensive study to date of Hélio Oiticica, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of neo-concretism, who is internationally recognized for his innovative and participatory work. Insightful essays by US and Latin American writers cover the entirety of his career, with special emphasis on his little-known New York period between 1971 and 1978. This catalogue also examines his involvement with music, literature, and his response to politics and the social environment in Brazil. From his immersion in 1960s counterculture to his life and work in New York City and final return to Rio de Janeiro, this catalogue charts the development of an utterly original talent whose work is both wide-ranging and thoroughly engaging.


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