Founded in 1997, IAC (Instituto de Arte Contemporânea) is a private São Paulo-based non-profit organization focused on the preservation, conservation, protection and dissemination of historical documents available for research and production of texts, books, articles, exhibitions and curatorships related to the careers and works of some of the most relevant Brazilian modern and contemporary visual artists acclaimed for the personal expression of their art and its intellectual depth. In over two-decades’ activity IAC has been a valuable source of information on Brazilian art for foreign and local curators, art historians, critics, artists, scholars, college students and PhDs.
The institute was idealized, founded and is presided by art gallerist Raquel Arnaud, founder of the Galeria Raquel Arnaud, Brazil’s earliest contemporary art gallery that began as Gabinete de Arte in 1973, and to this day remains one of the leading art galleries in South America.
Currently the artistic estates under the guardianship of the IAC with catalogued and digitalized data online at the institute’s website are: Willys de Castro (1926-1988), Sergio Camargo (1930-1990), Amilcar de Castro (1920-2002), Servulo Esmeraldo (1929-2017), Lothar Charoux (1912-1987), Luiz Sacilotto (1924-2003), Hermelindo Fiaminghi (1920-2004) and Iole de Freitas (1945). More recently IAC was entrusted with the estates of Ivan Serpa (1923-1973), Carmela Gross (1946), Antonio Dias (1944-2018), Rubem Ludolf (1932-2010) and architect Jorge Wilheim (1928-2014). These thirteen estates combined represent circa 46,000 documents under the care of IAC’s Department of Documentation and Research headed by researcher and museologist Marilucia Bottallo.
Since its inception in 1997, IAC is hailed a benchmark in the field of documental legacy of leading local visual artists. In 2006, the institute was awarded the prize for best cultural initiative of the year by the Association of Art Critics of São Paulo (APCA). The institute has partnerships with cultural institutions, museums and art galleries in Brazil and abroad such as Tate Modern, MoMA, The Getty Museum in L.A. and Fundação de Serralves in Porto. At MoMA’s exhibition “Sur Moderno: Journeys of Abstraction – The Patricia Phelps Cisneros Gift” (2019-2020), IAC was responsible for the lythographic studies and watercolors on graph paper by Willys de Castro for the museum’s show.
The idea of the IAC was first set in motion when artist Willys de Castro (1926-1988) entrusted to Ms. Arnaud, his long-time gallerist, a stash of important documents and projects some years prior to his death. The following accidental push came in 1990 when sculptor Sergio Camargo (1930-1990) passed away. “At the time it amounted to eighteen years I represented Camargo’s work so his heirs thought best to entrust to me all the documents and projects of the artist’s estate. The cultural heritages of two major names such as Willys de Castro and Sergio Camargo suddenly in my hands was to me a clear sign of a new phase in my career and the inspiration that led me to set up the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea (IAC) in 1997”, recalls Ms. Arnaud.
Databank and Activities
The IAC databank has been developed to meet the demands of the Documentation and Research Center and is available free of charge for on-site or remote use by researchers. IAC’s team of experts is highly qualified to provide information and help.
The institute also offers specialized courses, talks and workshops, as well as organizes exhibitions with the documents and projects of its collections. In 2006 the fourfold exhibition, “Amilcar de Castro, Mira Schendel, Sergio Camargo, Willys de Castro”, was organized and curated by Rodrigo Naves and Tiago Mesquita. “Campo ampliado” (Expanded Field), in 2007-2008 was curated by Paulo Sérgio Duarte. In 2015-2016, “Waltercio Caldas: o atelier transparente” (The Transparent Studio) was organized by the Rio-born artist himself. “Willys de Castro lado a lado” (Side by Side) in 2016 was curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, and “IAC 20 Years” in 2017 was curated by Jacopo Crivelli Visconti.