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REVIEW: Hélio Oiticica in New York

The late fifties and early sixties in Brazil were filled with modernist dreams. The arts were flourishing under the newly elected president, Juscelino Kubitschek, who had promised to achieve “fifty years of progress in five.” Musicians were mixing samba with jazz and developing bossa nova, while visual artists experimented with abstraction and participatory sculpture. Modern architecture would revolutionize the face of the country in 1960 with the inauguration of the newly constructed capital, Brasília. Designed by the country’s greatest modern architect, Oscar Niemeyer, the capitol was a symbol of hope and transformation in a poor country that had been politically unstable for decades. But all that was swiftly overshadowed by the reactionary military regime, which overthrew the government in 1964.

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