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Cildo Meireles

Brazilian  •  b. 1948

Biography

At the core of Cildo Meireles' conceptual artistic practice is an interest in the functions of economic and political systems. Meireles forms part of the younger generation of Brazilian Neo-Concrete artists who were chiefly concerned with integrating spectator participation in the execution of their artworks, provoking the viewer's sensorial awareness.

In his seminal series, Insertion In Ideological Circuits 2: Banknote Project (1970), Meireles printed politically subversive messages on American and Brazilian banknotes and sent them into circulation. This vandalism forced viewers to confront the reality of their political and economic systems and question their role and participation within said systems. This one series is emblematic of his larger body of work, which continues to intrigue and confound viewers today.

Insights

  • A retrospective of his work was presented at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in 1999 before traveling to the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro and the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art.

  • Meireles was the first Brazilian artist to be given a full retrospective by Tate in London in 2008. This exhibition then moved to the Museu d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona and the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City.

"A political work first has to stand by itself as an art object, formally and conceptually."

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