Art Fund helps Tate to buy major collection by Hélio Oiticica

  • 5 June 2007

The Art Fund has helped Tate to purchase six key pieces from its new exhibition of Hélio Oiticica's work, as well as one of the artist's most famous mixed-media installations, Tropicália, which is now on display at Tate Modern.

The group of works by Oiticica, one of the most innovative Brazilian artists of the 20th century, spans 10 years of the artist’s career, and includes paintings, sculptures and spatial reliefs as well as his Tropicália installation of 1966-7. The seven works were purchased with the help of a £150,000 Art Fund grant.

Hélio Oiticica was one of the most important figures in the counter-cultural movement that re-defined Brazilian art, architecture, music and literature in the mid-20th century. Constantly pushing boundaries, his work frequently incorporated elements of popular culture such as music and dance.

From early on Oiticica believed art should be a ‘lived-experience’, where viewer participation was an important part of the artwork. Visitors to his seminal work Tropicália are invited to wander through the installation, which includes cabin-like structures sitting amongst sand, stones, tropical plants and two live parrots. The sounds of a television tuned to a local station can be heard in one of the cabins, while poems by Roberta Salgado can be read among the plants and sand. After Oiticica’s installation, the name Tropicália became synonymous with the counter-cultural movement that reverberated though Brazil in the 1960s and beyond.

Tropicália can now be seen in Tate Modern’s display, Oiticica in London, in the level 5 joiner galleries.

The six other works purchased with The Art Fund’s help are now on display in the exhibition, Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Colour which opens at Tate Modern on June 6th.

Since its foundation The Art Fund has given grants totalling over £4.8 million to Tate, helping the gallery to purchase 637 objects worth over £46 million. Recent highlights include The Art Fund’s hugely successful public appeal to save JMW Turner’s Blue Rigi, and a £150,000 grant for Francis Hayman’s celebrated portrait of the writer Samuel Richardson and his family.

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