Hércules Barsotti's Ink Drawings

By Christophe Cherix

Originally published in MoMA's post on April 5, 2017

This essay is the seventh in a series of texts commissioned by MoMA's post initiative about the works and artists that are part of the CPPC's modern art gift to MoMA. It is our pleasure to republish it here and to translate it into Spanish for our readers. Over time, we will publish and translate additional post essays that describe other works in the gift.


Twelve ink drawings by Hércules Barsotti explore a radical geometry and a systematic mode of working that, already in 1960, point to a new mode of working for the Brazilian artist.

Hércules Barsotti, who belonged to a generation of great artists from Brazil, traveled extensively in Europe at multiple times, first in the late 1940s and then again throughout the 1950s, when he met a figure who would become foundational to his practice and those of many of his peers, Max Bill. In 1954 Barsotti opened a graphic design studio in São Paolo with his life partner Willys de Castro (whose achievements sometimes overshadowed his own), but he remained committed to his art. In the 1950s his work turned to a radical geometry that is devoid of any trace of his hand or brush and is simplified to the extreme.

The twelve drawings coming to MoMA from the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros might be among his greatest works. Each drawing is made of two or three lines originating from either opposite angles or opposites edges of the paper. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see that these lines not only never intersect but also run parallel in their last segment, creating the impression of shifting planes. These works represent multiple variations of the same idea. As a whole, the series seems already to point to a new mode of working, in which the artist exhausted the possibilities generated by a system, an idea that would become increasingly popular among other artists in the second half of the 1960s.

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Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
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Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
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Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.
/
Hércules Barsotti, Ink Drawing, 1960. Gift of Patricia Phelps de Cisneros through the Latin American
and Caribbean Fund in honor of Werner H. [Wynn] Kramarsky. The Museum of Modern Art.


As the public face of MoMA's C-MAP (Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives), post comprises notes on modern and contemporary art around the globe, and may be found here.