Digital sources on Brazilian Modernism

I will need four main types of digital sources for my project:

1. Images of Brazilian modernist artworks by artists such as Tarsila do Amaral, Oswaldo Goeldi, Anita Malfatti, Lasar Segall, Di Cavalcanti, etc.). I’m looking for paintings, prints, book covers, book illustrations, and magazine or journal illustrations, so repositories might include museums, cultural institutes, and digitized books.

Repositories: Established museums and cultural centers such as the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo and the Instituto Moreira Salles have images and metadata, but the images are not always high-res, and the sites are a bit clunky (not easily searchable).

2. Literary works by Brazilian modernist writers such as Mario de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Menotti del Picchia, Antonio de Alcantara Machado, and Patricia Galvao. These works include books (novels, short stories, poems) and also literary journals and newspaper pieces.

It doesn’t seem like much of this has been digitized at all. I’ve read most of this work in print in the 1990s. A search for Google Books shows the titles, but most have not been digitized; some have very limited partial previews; and the ones with more generous previous (though not full) are scans from print editions and not e-Books. I think this will probably be one of the challenges of this project. I’m dreaming of writing a big grant proposal that would include funding for many things, including the digitization of these works.

3. Historical maps of the city of Sao Paulo from the early 1900s to 1940.

The official website of the Sao Paulo city government (prefeitura) contains historical maps and photographs, neatly organized by year, and associated with the census (so there’s also demographic data). Maps are high res! Very zoomable! And can be easily downloaded (the images saved right to Zotero as jpgs in one step).

4. Historical photographs of Sao Paulo from the early 1900s to 1940.

In addition to the site mentioned above, the Departamento de Patrimonio Historico de Sao Paulo has an online database (easily searchable) with lots of historical photos.

On a side note, this department and this particular collection (which began as an analog collection in the 1930s) only exist because of the work of one of the modernist writers included in this study, Mario de Andrade, who founded and directed the city’s Department of Culture. In addition to being a writer and a government worker, he was a folklorist who traveled Brazil and documented many cultural practices (from music to oral narratives). So he was both an early archivist, and an early public intellectual committed to democratizing culture in many ways. After our discussions on public engagement today, I will surely add this as another component to my project and argument.

Summing up: As I suspected, there are few resources already available in digital form for this project (at least findable online). I will have to do more investigating to see if there are digitized resources in Brazil that are offline. I suspect that a huge part of this project will involve searching for funding for the digitization and cataloging of these materials, which in turn will entail finding contributors in Brazil (and maybe in the US too). I know it’s a lot to take on. The upside is that, out of this effort, not only my project would be possible, but also these materials could be made publicly available for the first time in a high-quality, easily searchable format (maybe a database that would be a parallel or sister website).


Source: Digital sources on Brazilian Modernism