Rui Afonso Santos, Ernesto de Sousa Poster Collection: Your Body is My Body, Lisbon, Museu Coleção Berardo
Artist, ethnographer, essayist, critic, writer, polemicist, film society member, filmmaker, theatre director, photographer, designer, collector, promoter, publisher, teacher, curator, conference speaker, agitator and, last but by no means least, democrat: to this day, Ernesto de Sousa remains and is increasingly being recognized as a key figure in the contemporary art scene.
The Ernesto de Sousa Poster Collection brings together 1,500 posters, brochures, manifestos and newsletters collected by the artist over the course of his life. Their considerable quality and interest as a whole grants us an in-depth look at the opportunities, achievements and triumphs of Portuguese and international artistic practice, as it covers a vast range of Neo-Avant Garde work from Portugal and abroad.
This was also the period in which he organized a course in experimental film at the Cineclube do Porto, with participants including the musician and composer Jorge Peixinho, the painters Ângelo de Sousa and Armando Alves (members, along with the painters Jorge Pinheiro and José Rodrigues, of the influential Porto-based group Os Quatro Vintes (‘The Four Twenties’), a name alluding to the most common degree mark awarded at the local college of fine art) and the essayists Eduardo Calvet de Magalhães, Óscar Lopes and Carlos Morais. His parallel work at this time as a film society and conference organizer is reflected by individual, hand-drawn pieces created to publicise the events Aspectos do Cinema Moderno (1965), by Pilar, and Perspectivas dum Novo Cinema Português, both combining lettering with design. He also continued to be interested in theatre, as shown by his collaboration with the TEP — Teatro Experimental do Porto.
The collection of iconic posters was enhanced by a rare copy of a poster dated 1965, by Ângelo de Sousa, featuring a reproduction of the poem “Divertimento só para o Ângelo”, by Eugénio de Andrade. Here the artist uses colour to create a linear composition, made up of curved lines in two shades of red.
In the year 1966 Ernesto also made international contacts that consolidated his position in the art world, especially his acquaintance with Jean-Claude Moineau. An important advocate of experimental and visual poetry, and a proponent of artistic and “meta-artistic” practices led, first and foremost, by processual art, art books, happenings, performances, mail art and “art beyond art”, Moineau carried out various art projects along these lines between 1966 and 1968, before suddenly abandoning them altogether, like so many others. The striking posters by the French artist, sent to Ernesto de Sousa by post, merge photography and performance with visual elements of low culture, in particular through typographic and photographic references taken from the general press (Espace vital and Le Poème est à la Page, c. 1966), and lettering designed for this express purpose. Such pieces often ask questions of the viewers or receivers themselves, as in the case of Écrivez à côté il ya de la place, oriented as a landscape poster in order to achieve the desired effect, or Écrivez ce que vous voulez, where it appears reduced down to a minimal form. The posters Meta-art and Ne coupez pas no. 4 act both as manifestos and as art objects in their own right.
In that same year, Ernesto de Sousa became familiar with the international art movement Fluxus. Set up on an informal basis in 1961 by the Lithuanian George Maciunas, it was a multi-disciplinary libertarian movement that sought to blend the visual arts, music, literature and performance, and was particularly influential in the 1960s and 1970s, when it reached Europe, the USA and Japan. Besides Maciunas, its foremost proponents included John Cage, George Brecht, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Wolf Vostell and Yoko Ono, under the creative direction of Allan Kaprow and Marcel Duchamp, who were behind its first happenings. Ernesto received the publication Fluxfest Sale by post, which contained a reproduction of the “Expanded Arts Diagram” by Maciunas, at once a manifesto diagram, poster manifesto and art object, published in 1966 with a one-time print run of 2,000 copies.
Ernesto de Sousa’s contacts with these international avant-garde movements had a significant influence on him, leading him to see “art/ life” and the collective as necessary conditions for creativity, whereby an interdisciplinary approach and the embracing of everyday elements were vital for contemporary creation, in a centripetal movement that he returned selflessly to the artists, teachers and pupils in his circle. Indeed, from 1967 to 1970 he taught Communication and Aesthetics in Theatre and Film on the renowned Art Training Course offered by the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes (SNBA) in Lisbon. Making the most of the new teaching guidelines and drawing upon the instruction provided by the historians José-Augusto França, Adriano de Gusmão and Rui Mário Gonçalves, the painter Sá Nogueira and the architects Manuel Tainha e Sena da Silva, the CFA provided an effective alternative to the absolutist, out-of-date and purely academic teaching provided by the schools of fine art in Lisbon and Porto — and thus gave rise to a whole new generation of artists, designers and critics.
In 1968 Ernesto began his film production project Almada, um Nome de Guerra (…). In June, following a journey to London with students from the CFA, Ernesto became interested in experimental film, having experienced examples of the genre. This influence was brought to bear in the Super 8 films Havia um Homem que Corria and Happy People, produced together with Carlos Gentil-Homem, his pupil at the CFA, and integrated into the multimedia event Nós não Estamos Algures, produced the following year when he travelled to London once again.
The experience of these trips, and others that he made soon afterwards, manifested itself primarily in his knowledge of the vibrant underground and art scenes in London (and thus the New York scene), as shown by the posters that he collected during his sojourns there: Monsieur Artaud, for the dramatized conference organized by Michael Almaz at the New Arts Laboratory; Fun and Games at the Cockpit and SIGNS — Sequences for the Theatre, relating to photography and print design; Pop Art inspired pieces such as Writers & Readers Art Series, by Chris Hyde, and Oval Theatre Arts Festival, designed by Mark Fennel, with a design by Tony Rivers on the other side. There are a number of significant pieces featuring photography and text manifestos purposely created on a low budget to publicize the Roy Hart Theatre and promote drama performances by the group, whose eponymous mentor was a correspondent of Carl Jung and blended psychotherapeutic activities with drama and performance. In addition, there are pieces issued by the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, such as the poster for the National Conference on Art Education, held at the Hornsey Collage, a notable example of geometric design, and Hornsey College of Art in Action, a photographic work depicting the sit-in at the art department and a message from the students to the public. The iconic poster relating to the experimental films of Andy Warhol also dates from this phase, as does the famous psychedelic poster for Hair – The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical and the 1971 poster for the William Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Peter Brook, featuring a model of the scenery by Sally Jacob.
These pieces are joined by others, such as the poster for Timm Ulrich’s Ich als Kunstfigur (1969), a linear self-portrait, and, even more significantly, the poster Paradise Now. Collective Creation (1968), a text-diagram and manifesto by The Living Theatre, a New York based anti-war, experimental and participatory theatre group founded in 1947 by Judith Malina and her husband, the painter, poet, stage designer and director Julian Beck, who was also a strong advocate for the art-life interface, and supported the abolition of the established boundaries between the actors and the audience. One important piece produced in this context is the poster Seven Meditations on Political Sado-Masochism (1973), a photographic image of a nude actor recreating the “parrot’s perch” torture prevalent under the military dictatorship in Brazil.
The concept of the “expanded cinema” espoused by Ernesto de Sousa was the result of the absolute need to “make 35-, 16- and 8-millimetre films, and that was it, in view of the possible dimensions. But above all, it also came from the need to make films that transcended film as a medium: making films outside the confines of film.” In 1968, Ernesto de Sousa worked with CFA students to create the Oficina Experimental, a group that aimed to produce experimental films, happenings, theatrical events, and create many pieces and hold parties and gatherings. He himself defined it as a “‘club’ for multifarious, interdisciplinary, international and inter-avant-garde activity, etc.”
A tireless traveller, he journeyed to Paris to witness the key events of May 1968, as attested by the rare poster La Lutte continue, by the Atelier Populaire, a striking screen printing with red figures, arranged in lines and densely packed, against a white background.
In April of the following year he began filming Almada, um Nome de Guerra, for which he organized auctions at the Cooperativa Árvore in Porto, the SNBA in Lisbon, and in Aveiro, selling works donated by Portuguese visual artists (…).
Between 24 August and 3 September 1969, Ernesto de Sousa took part alongside the journalist Maria Antónia Palla in the Undici Giorni d’Arte Collettiva, held in Pejo, Italy. Bruno Munari was one of the organisers behind the event, which was a convivial gathering for hundreds of artists from across Europe, in particular Italy, to exchange ideas and experiences, arrange visual art exhibitions and collaborations, present underground films, conduct happenings, and perform visual and phonetic poetry, along with electronic music.
This experience had a profound influence on Ernesto’s theories and way of working. He became aware of the term “aesthetic operator”, adding it to the concept of the “open work” thought up by Umberto Eco, with which he was already familiar. Ernesto acquired the poster for the event, featuring lettering in vertical bands, jaggedly cut out above a magenta background. Ernesto wrote: “In our time, the word ‘artist’ is losing its old prestige. The most vivid collective aesthetic experience in which I ever participated took place in Pejo, Italy, in August 1969, the ‘Undici Giorni di Arte Collettiva’, with Bruno Munari and others; and in taking part it became clear to me, in the light of the work that I had already undertaken with the Almada project, that the most lucid participants refused the title of artists; they wanted to be classified as aesthetic workers or operators.(…)
In December 1969, Ernesto de Sousa presented the mixed-media work Nós não Estamos Algures to the public, written and staged by him in the 1.º Acto space in Algés. The creator himself described the event as follows: “It was a pedagogical experience, carried out in part with the help of some former and current participants in the Artistic Training course. It was an all-encompassing production — a pivotal experience featuring film, theatre and music. The body itself. Over six months, we played the body against the space (the ground) and against the light (from the projectors). We discovered certain expressive tools. With Carlos Gentil-Homem, we learnt about the problems of simultaneous projection; with Jorge Peixinho, the travails of non-illustrative music, playing with stimuli and stimulating oneself. Finally we perceived one’s own destruction as a spectator (‘every spectator is a coward and a traitor’). And above all, this activity, this ‘feast,’ which even incorporated a culinary moment, pointed to what I believe to be the noblest side of valid critical practice: producing an open work that can be transformed, with points of contact that emerge from the piece. In other words, it should be open to others.” This innovative foray into poetic communication resulted in the screen-printed posters printed by the Cooperativa Gravura, Nós não Estamos Algures, Exercícios sobre a Poesia Comunicação (1969), by Carlos Gentil-Homem, with his iconic image of a falling bomb. This was accompanied by works by the painter Fernando Calhau, proposed by Ernesto himself, in red, magenta and blue, bearing aphorisms by Almada: “When I was born, the sentences that will save humanity had all already been written / only one thing remained undone: saving humanity” and “There are systems for all the things that help us to learn how to love / but no systems for learning to love”, arranged in a continuous column of typographic letters. These were handed out to the public at the event. Almada Negreiros, the pioneering figure of Portuguese Modernism, died in 1970. The project Almada, um Nome de Guerra resulted in another noteworthy series of posters, dating from 1971, by Carlos Gentil-Homem, with screen prints that were intended to publicize the event, at which they were also distributed. In one of the posters, which was printed in blue, red, black and sepia versions on a neutral background, is the photograph of the aged face of the artist with his “futurist” poem: “Vós ó portugueses da minha geração que, como eu, não tendes culpa nenhuma de serdes portugueses / Insultai o perigo.”(You Portuguese of my Generation who, like me, can’t help it but to be Portuguese / Offend the danger) Also by Carlos Gentil-Homem and dating from the same year is the poster with Almada’s latest aphorism: “We are in the 20th century, in the time that does not die.” It is almost monochrome, and configured as a large, even rectangle in two shades of yellow. There are also pieces bearing the acronym “K4”, strikingly conceived in red and blue, and alluding to Almada’s satirical booklet K4 o Quadrado Azul, published in 1917. There are other posters by the same designer with imposing and modern graphic designs, typically featuring the letter “A” for Almada, in large sweeps of red on a white or sepia background, with the phrase “Happiness is the most serious thing in life” at the bottom, along with another work, also from 1971, showing the figure of the poet Fernando Pessoa in red, with the silhouettes of people encroaching on him, in a comic-like style, inspired by the famous posthumous of portrait of Almada and the comic Corto Maltese. This was to be given to the artists who had supplied work to help fund the film. Collected at a time that is now unclear, the iconic poster A Canção de Lisboa (1933) by Almada Negreiros himself alludes to the eponymous film by the architect Cottinelli Telmo, with a Picasso-like, classical design depicting the actress Beatriz Costa crowned as the “Queen of the Seamstresses”.
Also in 1971, Ernesto de Sousa became interested in the struggle being conducted by libertarian movements, and the campaign for civil rights. The poster Free Angela Free Our Sisters Free Ourselves (1971), by Marilyn Reynolds, forms part of this context, with its simply drawn images of Angela Davies. There are other posters that relate to the Black Panthers, such as 21 Black Panthers (1971), completely covered in numbers and letters, and Free the Panthers (from the same year), a photo montage of black people penned in by lines of armed police. Other pieces making significant use of photography include the poster featuring a portrait of Martin Luther King, and Eldrige Cleaver. Black Panther (1971), referring to the film by William Klein, which is now on display at the Studio Parnasse. The piece Stop the Terror at Pine Ridge. Support the Indian Resistance (1975) is drawn with a stencil, giving it a more artisanal feel.
In July and August of 1972, a year that brought a number of new opportunities, Ernesto de Sousa presented the exhibition Do Vazio à Pró-Vocação at the SNBA, as part of the AICA 72 (an association to which he had belonged since 1970), which featured artists with whom he identified very closely: Alberto Carneiro, Ana Vieira, António Sena, Carlos Gentil-Homem, Eduardo Nery, Fernando Calhau, Helena Almeida, João Vieira, Lourdes Castro and Nuno de Siqueira.
Even more important was his visit to the celebrated Documenta 5 event, held in Kassel, Germany, and curated by Harald Szeemann, which is still regarded as the most important documenta thus far. (…) Another highlight is a series of Belgian and Dutch political pieces alluding to the situation of the Portuguese colonies and the war that was raging in the overseas territories at the time, including Portugal Moordt Met Nato-Wapens in Afrika (1970) by Jan Wolkers.
There are a number of important examples of Portuguese graphic design from that time. One such poster is Orfotonias (1965), completely covered in lettering, for the exhibition of visual poetry by António Aragão and E. M. de Melo e Castro. The collection also contains posters publicising the work of the painter António Areal, for an exhibition at the SNI (1966) and, by the same artist, the pop piece A História Dramática de Um Ovo (1967), for an exhibition taking place at the same venue. These are joined by the exhibition posters for Os Quatro Vintes at the Cooperativa Árvore and the Galeria Alvarez in Porto, including Não tenha medo! Apareça (1968) and another piece for the same exhibition, with nineteenth-century medical photographs of the faces of maniacs, arranged vertically. In a different, more pictorial style is the poster by José Rodrigues, promoting his exhibition at the Galeria Alvarez (1970). This series of posters relating to visual art also includes the black and white poster Vítor Palla, Pinturas de 1967 (1968), for the exhibition held at the SNBA, and a pair of posters by Victor Pomar (1969), one of which bears the words “Pour vous brûler la cervelle,” created for the exhibition at the Galeria Quadrante in Lisbon and the Cooperativa Árvore in Porto, featuring printed matches in vibrant red and yellow. Also from 1969 is António Sena’s poster for the exhibition Desenhos e Colagens, with a small reproduction of one of his “calligraphic” paintings placed in the lower right-hand corner, with the rest remaining completely black. Sena de Silva’s 1970 poster for the exhibition of the work of students on the course at the CFA is representative of the geometric precision associated with the architect and designer. The posters by Ângelo de Sousa are rare copies, in particular those for the exhibitions Ângelo. Escultura, Desenho (1970) at the Galeria Alvarez, and Ângelo (1972), at the SNBA, printed in green and red respectively, with a strikingly coloured graphic design in wavy lines in one, and an image of an ascending evolutionary sequence from a line to an octagon in the other. The collection also contains the poster Natureza Envolvente — 1969 (1971) by Alberto Carneiro, relating to his focus on ecological art and “land art” for a participatory installation at the Galeria Ogiva in Óbidos, where oranges were handed out to the spectators for them to eat, and so that they could then stick the peel to the poster itself. Produced at the same time was another fine example: the poster for the exhibition Ana Vieira at the Galeria Quadrante, a photographic reproduction in black and white of the artist’s atmospheric installations, created in 3D with translucent and transparent screens. Also from 1971 and by Sebastião Rodrigues is the poster O Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga no V Centenário do Nascimento de Albrecht Dürer, with a clear and accomplished design that features the celebrated engraving of the “rhinoceros” by the German Old Master.
The poster Helena Almeida. Primavera (1971) also dates from that year, and was created for the artist’s solo exhibition at the Galeria Judite Dacruz, featuring a photograph of one of her painting installations, in which the canvas extends beyond the frame to three dimensions, with vinyl spreading out across the floor. From the following year, Mur de René Bertholo features a colour photograph of a mural in Paris — a pop painting by the Portuguese artist that complemented his kinetic sculptures made of rather unorthodox materials such as painted metal or plastic. The iconoclastic practice of Sam is visible in the poster of the same name from 1972, with a metaphorical image of the red “chair of power” and a naughty finger raising from the seat, against a blue background, and also the poster Sam Expõe os seus Funis (…).
There are other Portuguese exhibition posters in the collection, such as Varela, Pires Vieira, for Galeria Quadrante (1971), featuring hand-drawn graphics. Other posters testify to the quality of Portuguese graphic design over that period, including the poster for the 1st International Jazz Festival (1967) by Mário Silva, with Neodadaist-inspired lettering; Cine-Clube Universitário de Lisboa (1968), with a markedly artistic look to its black-and-white image of a semi-nude pin-up against a busy, coloured background; Melim — 4 by the Grupo Cénico da Associação Académica da Faculdade de Direito de Lisboa (1970); the poster for the Encontro de Técnicos Realizadores Críticos (1970), created by Luís Geraldes, with its black, wavy and organic-looking design in Pop-Art style, which also has echoes in the poster for the Semana do Novo Cinema Português (1967), featuring organic-looking lettering in circular sections; and José Rodrigues’ poster for the play Azulnegro (1971) at the TUP — Teatro Universitário do Porto, among others.
Also in 1972, Ernesto de Sousa attended the first Festival d’Automne in Paris, an important event organised by Michel Guy, which was completely dedicated to contemporary art, although it also incorporated experimental music and dance. The exhibition poster by Takis comes from this event, featuring a blackand-white photograph a male model, as do other posters relating to the festival, such as the poster for the exhibition of work by Barnett Newman, held at the Grand Palais, with a design by Roman Cieslewicz that uses a series of photographs by Ugo Mulas.
In 1973 Ernesto de Sousa continued his work as a critic and essayist, with a series of important articles for the magazine Colóquio – Artes, issued by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. He would continue to write for the magazine until 1979. In addition to themed articles, he also published reflections on the work of the Portuguese artists with whom he felt the greatest affinity: Melo e Castro, José Rodrigues, Alberto Carneiro, Ângelo de Sousa, Fernando Calhau, Helena Almeida, Ana Hatherly and João Vieira.
While passing through Nice on the way to Yugoslavia, Ernesto de Sousa met the artists Robert Filliou, Ben Vautier and George Brecht, all of whom had links with the Fluxus movement. He maintained a particularly close friendship with Filliou, the creator of the conceptual “Anniversary of Art”, which — according to him — would span a million years.
This meeting also led Ernesto to receive the offer of the poster for the group exhibition Biga, Filliou, Oldenburg (1973) at the Studio Ferrero in Nice, a simple design filled with lettering in black and red, and, more importantly, the poster for Anniversary of Art 1.000.010, for the solo exhibition / event / manifesto held at the Neue Galerie der Stadt in Aachen, with white lettering and line-based design against a vibrant blue background. On 17 January 1974, following a suggestion by Ernesto de Sousa, who had been actively involved in the concept and organisation stage, the event was held at the CAPC in Coimbra, under the title 1.000.011º Aniversário da Arte. Other Portuguese posters dating from 1973 feature in the collection, such as Guilherme Lopes Alves’ poster for the film Perdido por Cem, directed by António Pedro Vasconcelos, which shows a portrait of the protagonist drawn in black (…).
During this period  Ernesto de Sousa gathered together a vast array of pieces, from high-level graphic posters to mere leaflets, and from foreign propaganda to the odd brochure. Iconic pieces include the posters by João Abel Manta entitled MFA, Povo. Povo, MFA (1975) and MFA, Sentinela do Povo (1975), with its striking, stylised figures outlined in black. These posters were produced by the fifth division of the MFA, which brought together intellectuals and provided guidance on cultural policy. This was also the case with the subsequent posters by Marcelino Vespeira, MFA. Forças Armadas, Raízes duma Revolução (1974) and Não Faças o Jogo da Reacção. Vota pela Revolução (1975); the first shows a stylised image of a carnation, the symbol of the Revolution, and the second is more elaborate in conceptual terms, enhanced by the artist with slogans, creating an appealing visual play between the words “Povo” (people) and “Voto” (vote), overlapping and arranged like a chequerboard in green and red — the colours of the national flag. (…) The collection contains some rare examples of radical design directly inspired by the art and graphic art produced in the wake of May 1968, such as the iconic poster Morte ao Fascismo by Carlos Gentil-Homem, a propaganda poster for the far-left Partido Revolucionário do Proletariado — Brigadas Revolucionárias (PRP-BR). Revolução Socialista (1975) featuring red lettering arranged in diagonal bands across the black silhouette of a rat (a reference to a poster by Atelier Populaire) on a white, screen-printed background. Carlos Gentil-Homem and João Firmino also designed other posters for the PRP-BR, including one bearing the phrase Uma só Solução, Revolução Socialista3 (1974), which is more elaborate, with regular lettering on a black background. The poster PRP — Partido Revolucionário do Proletariado. Brigadas Revolucionárias (1976) is particularly iconic, with its photographic images of a demonstration on the street by members of the army and navy, punctuated by a simple hanging flag, a swathe of red that appears smooth and slightly detached from the rest. The same two artists also came up with the poster FUR. Por uma Frente de Unidade Revolucionária (1975), with densely packed lettering, as well as the piece with FUR as a wavy acronym in red, with bands of overlapping letters running diagonally, in red and yellow on a black background. Manuel Paula was also the designer behind prominent posters for PRP-BR, such as Unir, Organizar, Armar. A Revolução Triunfará, as well as Revolução Socialista. Armar and Revolução Socialista. Organizar, all from 1975 and featuring regular, high-impact lettering that stands out against a black background. Just as remarkable was the output of the English designer Robin Fior, who settled in Portugal for good in 1974 and produced a significant range of graphic design work in the Pop Art style prevalent in the UK. He created the iconic poster Jornada Internacional de Apoio à Resistência do Povo Chileno (1974), published by MES — Movimento de Esquerda Socialista, a stencil image of a desolate red escarpment against a black background, with regular lettering contrasting with both colours. He also produced pieces issued by the Cooperativa Práxis in 1974, with a linear design and regular patches of intense colour, like flags: Solidariedade Guiné-Bissau, with curved areas of green, yellow and red against a black background, and multicoloured designs in a Pop Art style. The poster MLSTP. Legítimo Representante do Povo de S. Tomé e Príncipe e PAIGC. Unidade Guiné – Cabo Verde features diagonal bands and multi-sided zones in the same colours. The MRPP, a Maoist-inspired party, took their cue from the realism espoused by the Soviet and Chinese regimes, as can be seen in the historical (and retouched) photograph of Lenin before the masses, with Stalin at his side, in black, yellow and red stencil-work, to promote a rally in Moscavide (1975). two artists also came up with the poster FUR. Por uma Frente de Unidade Revolucionária (1975), with densely packed lettering, as well as the piece with FUR as a wavy acronym in red, with bands of overlapping letters running diagonally, in red and yellow on a black background. Manuel Paula was also the designer behind prominent posters for PRP-BR, such as Unir, Organizar, Armar. A Revolução Triunfará, as well as Revolução Socialista. Armar and Revolução Socialista. Organizar, all from 1975 and featuring regular, high-impact lettering that stands out against a black background. Just as remarkable was the output of the English designer Robin Fior, who settled in Portugal for good in 1974 and produced a significant range of graphic design work in the Pop Art style prevalent in the UK. He created the iconic poster Jornada Internacional de Apoio à Resistência do Povo Chileno (1974). The liberation movements of the former African colonies generally resorted to photography, as is the case with the poster MPLA — Pioneiros (1975), an image of deprived children, issued by the Casa de Angola, or FRELIMO 1964-1974 — 10 Anos de Guerra Popular (1974) and Angola — MPLA. Independência Total, which have a more handcrafted look. In other examples, those same movements chose a simplified graphic design and the internationally recognisable image of a star above horizontal fields of black and red, as is the case with Com o MPLA, um só Povo, uma só Nação, by José Rodrigues, as well as the earlier examples given. A later piece of work with a clear, unfussy design is the poster Exposição de Solidariedade com os Presos Políticos Anti-Fascistas (1980), featuring graphics by Adriano Rangel, screen-printed by José Carlos Paiva and issued by the fine art department of the Universidade do Porto (FBAUP). (...) From October 1974 to the October 1975 Ernesto de Sousa wrote for the magazine Vida Mundial, in which he advocated the need for an avant-garde, wrote about specific avant-garde artists (Filliou, Ben, Sarenco, Buren and Beuys) and reflected on the role of art and the artist in Portuguese society at a time of revolutionary transformation, with a particular focus on market issues and the relationship between political power and cultural stakeholders, while always supporting the autonomy of cultural and artistic elements in the face of politics. In 1975, the mixed-media work Luíz Vaz 73, with music by Jorge Peixinho and visual input by Ernesto himself, was presented at the international mixed-media festival in Ghent, which had a minimalist poster in black, issued by Logos Foundation. In February 1976 Luíz Vaz 73 was presented in an austere setting created by Fernando Calhau in the Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna in Belém, with a performance by the Grupo de Música Contemporânea. The event poster was created by Fernando Calhau himself and issued by the Secretaria de Estado da Cultura – Direcção Geral da Acção Cultural (SEC-DGAC). Also in 1975, Ernesto led the Clube-Encontro Opinião, and thus oversaw the distribution of the Diploma de Artista by the Acre group. He kept a copy of this, along with the brochure issued to mark the exhibition Os Pós-Objectuais Jugoslavos. On 13 April the conference / performance Jeronimus Bosch — um Mistério que Deixou de Ser was staged by Ernesto de Sousa, with text by J. B. Vicente and interpretation by André Gomes, at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, which houses the famous triptych The Temptations of St Anthony by the Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch.
(…) On 30 October 1976 Ernesto de Sousa attended the inauguration of the Museu Vostell in Malpartida de Cáceres, Spain, where he made the acquaintance of Wolf Vostell, an artist belonging to the Fluxus movement and a pioneer of video art, installations and happenings, as well as a painter and sculptor. Over the course of his firm friendship with Vostell, Ernesto de Sousa amassed a sizeable collection of posters by the artist, including Wolf Vostell. Desastres (a film by Helmut Wietz) (1972), Wolf Vostell. Energia (1974), Wolf Vostell. décoll/age, Filme 1963-1971 (1974) and Wolf Vostell. Fluxus Zug (1981). In 1976 he also exhibited his work at the Sztuki LDK Labirynt gallery in Lublin, Poland, along with Fernando Calhau and Julião Sarmento, on their own initiative. On that occasion he presented screen prints that were completely white sheets, with the phrase “o teu corpo é o meu corpo / o meu corpo é o teu corpo” printed in small letters that formed a symmetrical circle, upon which was projected the Super 8 film Revolution My Body nr. 2.
During this decade, various posters from abroad and relating to visual arts joined the collection, including the exhibition poster for John Goode + Kenneth Price (1972), issued by the DM Gallery in London, featuring clean blue lettering on a white background, and the piece by Boris Bucan (1973), in which the verbal concept of “art” is sifted through the memory of the famous KLM company logo, in black and white against a flag-like striped background, in a faultless graphic design. A key work is a 1973 poster for an exhibition by José Barrias at the Galleria d’Arte San Michele, with design by Angelo Sganzerla and photography by Mario Recrosio. Another rare highlight is the poster Man Ray (1974), a foldable photographic print that uses a self-portrait from 1943, issued by the Studio Marconi in Milan, with a limited run of 100 numbered and signed copies. The variety and quality of Polish graphic design were demonstrated by the posters Nurt Metaforyczno-Ekspresyjny w Sztuce Polskiej (1975), featuring a photo montage, and Terra—1, International Exposition of Intentional Architecture (1975), both issued by the Polish branch of the AICA. Perhaps even more significant is the set of posters by the Italian artist Fernando De Filippi, who was behind the experimental event Sostituzione (1974), a film of a performance in which he appears sitting, with his torso half-naked, in a pose reminiscent of Lenin. This image appeared on the poster for the event, issued by Giancarlo Politi. In 1975 another performance poster joined the collection¸ this time in colour, issued by the Galleria “Il Punto”. A poster issued by the Galerie Lara Vincy features a photograph of Fernando De Filippi lying down, adding the finishing touches to some writing on a wall. Fernando De Filippi also composed manifesto posters made of photos of handwriting. Of these, particular highlights are Trascrizione (1974), in landscape format, and La Mano non È soltanto l´Organo del Lavoro, È anche il suo Prodotto (1977), both conceptual. Thanks to Ernesto, these were added to the polemic sentence manifesto Arte como Crítica de Arte in Portugal, for which he helped to create the poster. Another key piece is Ben Vautier’s poster L’Art c’est de faire le pitre (1975), with its handwriting on a black background, and the minimalist poster Alan Charlton, issued in 1976 by Leo Castelli in New York. The collection was enhanced by the poster Venezia 1976: Inutilitá dello Spreco (1976), which Ernesto also managed to save.
In addition to the posters by Antonio Ferró — one of which bears the inscription “With Love, Superman” (1977) — from the La Post/ Avanguardia event, other noteworthy pieces include the poster Naturalisations, by Silvie Defraoui (1977), which she displayed at the Quadrum gallery with her husband Chérif, on the invitation of Ernesto de Sousa, and Art Vital (1977) by Marina Abramovic and Ulay, featuring photography of their van performing ritual laps, which the artists presented at the Paris Biennial (and which Ernesto de Sousa documented in photographs).
In terms of Portuguese work, the set of art posters for exhibitions and artists that were particular favourites of Ernesto de Sousa is particularly worthy of note. This is the case with Julião Sarmento, as attested by the series of posters of his exhibitions between 1975 and 1980, including Gnait and Rosebud, Dom Juan, and also Shelter / Abrigo, the latter with Patrick Mohr. Álvaro Lapa, who produced a poster in 1973 for the exhibition Modelos Narrativos at the Galeria Quadrante in Lisbon, is another example, as is Helena Almeida, with a significant batch of exhibition posters from between 1971 and 1983, of which particular noteworthy examples are Primavera by the Galeria Judite Dacruz in Lisbon and Ouve-me, Hear-me, Écoute-moi (1979) at the Cooperativa Diferença, which was followed by the impressive Entrada Negra. Entrée Noire (1980), hosted abroad, the back of the poster for which featured poems by Helena and Ernesto. This set culminates in 1983 with the exhibition Helena Almeida, promoted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, with its poster image of the body of the artist as a pictorial metaphor, spilling out into the studio space in the form of black ink. It is also worth mentioning other artists for whom Ernesto de Sousa had a significant number of pieces: Ângelo de Sousa, Pires Vieira (for example, “Des” Construções, Galeria Quadrante, 1974), Eduardo Nery (Fotografias 1976/79. Estruturas, 1979), E. M. de Melo e Castro (Sínteses, Galeria Quadrum, 1978), António Sena (Desenhos e Colagens, Galeria Interior, Lisbon) and Alberto Carneiro (21 Janelas sobre a Paisagem — 73 e 7 Esculturas Naturais — 72/73, CAPC, 1975), among others, such as Costa Pinheiro, Zulmiro de Carvalho, Albuquerque Mendes and José Carvalho.
It is also worth drawing attention to the key exhibition Alternativa Zero, which Ernesto organised at the Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna in Belém, with the subtitle “Tendências Polémicas da Arte Portuguesa Contemporânea”, and in which he brought together around 50 Portuguese artists, along with the documentary exhibition Pioneiros do Modernismo em Portugal, which also involved A Floresta by the CAPC, an exhibition of posters on the theme A Vanguarda e os Meios de Comunicação — many of which are referred to here as installations, placed in plastic bags — and various parallel events, both scheduled and spontaneous, including films, concerts and performances, all conducted as a collective and in a celebratory spirit. Living Theatre events also took place at the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon and on the terrace of Coimbra University, along with seminars with the group at the SNBA and the Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna. The event poster by Carlos Gentil-Homem features the image of the Mona Lisa, which also appears in a drawing on the poster Uma Alternativa (1977), issued for a “conference” at the CAPC. At around the same time, the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra put out a poster with a more radical design, entitled A Cena Artística Portuguesa na Vanguarda (1978), which simply featured screen-printed lettering and a small square area. In February and July, Ernesto de Sousa led a course on current art at the Galeria Quadrum, for which he kept the poster. He repeated the course between November 1977 and November 1978. From this period, Ernesto also kept posters by Grafil, such as Nova Fotografia (1978) by Diferença, I occupy only that much place by Teresa Tyszkiewicz and Zdzislaw Sosnowski (1982), and na Quadrum: Vídeo-Arte, Performances, Nova-Fotografia (1978), which promoted work by Gina Pane, Ulrike Rosenbach e Dany Bloch, and Silvie and Chérif Defraoui. At around that time, he began to plan a major retrospective exhibition of the work of Wolf Vostell, which would take place in May and June 1979 at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna in Lisbon, and later at the Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Museu Soares dos Reis in Porto. From 7 to 30 November 1978 he presented his first solo exhibition in Portugal at Quadrum — A Tradição como Aventura. He designed the exhibition poster himself. A more radical version, which was rejected, features a photograph of a female pubis in repeated images across a grid, like a film still. As an alternative, Ernesto de Sousa created a poster with an image of the face of a Classical statue; this is preserved in the collection to this day. From that year, Ernesto de Sousa took on the role of artistic director at the Galeria Diferença, which had been founded in 1979. Up until 1987 he held a number of solo exhibitions in this space and also participated in numerous group exhibitions. In 1987 Diferença hosted his retrospective show Itinerários, which included an exhibition of previously unseen photographs from the 1950s and a repeat of the Olympia installation, made up of colour photographs and text, having previously been shown at the CAPC (1979) and at Diferença (1980). The poster features a screen-printed image of a woman against a neutral background. In June 1980 the artist was appointed curator of the Portuguese representation at the Venice Biennale, which took the form of a themed pavilion. Ernesto de Sousa chose the artists Ana Hatherly, António Sena, E. M. de Melo e Castro and João Vieira, along with the musicians Lopes e Silva and Maria João Serrão, grouped under the theme A Palavra e a Letra. Ernesto de Sousa made his own contribution with a video piece, also entitled The Word and the Letter. Fernando Pessoa and Almada Negreiros were cited as referential figures, the latter with a photograph on the panel Começar. Two years later, Ernesto de Sousa was once again commissioned as the curator of the Portuguese entry for the event, (…)
In terms of international posters, particularly noteworthy examples in the collection are those by Jörg Immendorff (1978) and the Croatians Nuša and Sreco Dragan, the iconic typed poster manifesto by Sarenco with the inscription “All Italian critics are members of the Mafia, above all Achille Bonito Oliva, Renato Barilli, Flavio Caroli, Vittorio Fagone” (1980), and also the work of the radical collective Atelier Kramer. Equally important are the posters for exhibitions by Ulay and Marina Abramovic, Films (1980) at the Venice Biennale by the visual poetry collective Logomotives 1963– 83 — with a group photograph by Fred Forest — at the FIAC in Paris (1984), and the key work Plowmans Lunch (1982) by Lawrence Wiener, as well as the invitation for the exhibition Ligne d’Horizon — Théatre d’Ombres (1982) by Lourdes Castro and Manuel Zimbro, held at the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In January 1983 Ernesto de Sousa took part in the discussions that formed part of the Depois do Modernismo event, alongside Eduardo Prado Coelho, Germano Celant, José Barrias and José Luís Porfírio, at the Escola Superior de Belas-Artes de Lisboa. He kept the poster for the exhibition, designed by Luís Serpa.
The paradigm shift at that time, marked by the emergence of new artists, is shown by posters from their respective solo exhibitions, such as the one for the show by Pedro Calapez in 1984, as well as Um Labrego em Nova York (1984), in an irreverent graphic style, for the exhibition by the provocative Grupo Homeostético made up of Ivo, Manuel João Vieira, Pedro Proença, Pedro Portugal and Xana.
In June 1984 Ernesto de Sousa was once again appointed curstor of the Portuguese entry for the Venice Biennale, and this time chose José Barrias. The poster for the event — Nottiario, by José Barrias — features a photograph of an eye with a superimposed design. In 1987 Itinerários, a retrospective of Ernesto de Sousa’s work curated by Fernando Pernes and José Luís Porfírio, was presented at the Galeria Diferença, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga and the Galeria Almada Negreiros. In September the retrospective was also presented at the Casa de Serralves in Porto. The poster of the event, which was issued by the Galeria Diferença and features a montage of portraits of the artist, is included in the collection. Despite suffering from a debilitating physical ailment, in 1988 Ernesto de Sousa devised the Aldeia Global project, which addressed communication and the exchange of information across a computer network. He died on 6 October of the same year.
Ernesto de Sousa, Re Começar. Almada em Madrid. Lisboa: Imprensa Nacional — Casa da Moeda, 1983.
Ernesto de Sousa. Itinerários. Lisbon: Secretaria de Estado da Cultura, 1987.
Ernesto de Sousa, Ser Moderno em Portugal. Lisbon: Assírio & Alvim, 1998.
Ernesto de Sousa. Revolution my Body. Lisbon: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian / Centro de Arte Moderna José de Azeredo Perdigão, 1998.
Ernesto de Sousa. Oralidade, Futuro da Arte? E outros Textos, 1953-87. São Paulo: Escrituras, 2011.