Cildo Meireles

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Cildo Meireles
Born 1948 (1948)
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Known for Sculpture and installation
Movement Concrete art, Conceptual art, Neo-concrete art

Cildo Meireles (born 1948) is a Brazilian conceptual artist, installation artist and sculptor. He is noted especially for his installations, many of which express resistance to political oppression in Brazil. These works, often large and dense, encourage the viewer's interaction.


Meireles was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948. His father worked for the Indian Protection Service and their family traveled extensively within rural Brazil.[1] During this time Meireles learned the beliefs of the Tupi people which he later incorporated into some of his works.[2]

He began his study of art in 1963 at the District Federal Cultural Foundation in Brasilia, under the Peruvian painter and ceramist Felix Barrenechea.[3] In 1967 he moved to Rio de Janeiro and studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes.[4]

Meireles currently lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.[1]


Following the military coup in 1964, Meireles became involved in political art. In 1970 he developed a political art project which aimed to reach a wide audience while avoiding censorship called Insertions Into Ideological Circuits. This was achieved by printing images and messages onto various items that were already widely circulated and which had value discouraging them being destroyed, such as banknotes and Coca-Cola bottles (which were recycled by way of a deposit scheme). This continued until 1976. Meireles also used money as a theme in other ways and produced his own replica banknotes and coins (1974–1978) which appeared very similar to genuine Brazilian and US currency but with zero denominations clearly written on them, e.g. Zero Dollar.[5][6]

He was one of the founders of the Experimental Unit of the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro in 1969 and in 1975, edited the art magazine Malasartes.[4]

In 2008 he won the Velazquez Plastic Arts Award, presented by the Ministry of Culture of Spain.[7]

Key Works[edit]

Red Shift (1967–84)[edit]

A large-scale, three-room exploration of an entirely red environment.[8]

Through (1983-9)[edit]

A labyrinthine structure which invites the visitor to walk across plates of broken glass.[9]

Babel (2001)[edit]

A tower of radios, each just audible and tuned to a different station to evoke resonances of the Tower of Babel in the Bible. [10]

Southern Cross (1969 – 70)[edit]

A minimalist sculpture, on a Lilliputian scale: Meireles calls it an example of “humiliminimalism” – a humble brand of minimalism. He wanted it to be even smaller, “but when I sanded it down to my nails, I lost patience and stopped at nine mm”. But unlike most minimalist sculptures, it is no mere dull object, but it is meant to be as richly symbolic, sensuous and potent as an amulet.[11]


A retrospective of his work was presented at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in 1999 and then traveled to the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro and the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art. In conjunction with the exhibition, a book entitled Cildo Meireles, was published by Phaidon Press (1999).

The first extensive presentation of the artist’s work in the UK opened at Tate Modern in October 2008. Meireles was the first Brazilian artist to be given a full retrospective by Tate.[2] This exhibition then moved to the Museu d'Art Contemporani in Barcelona, and later to the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) in Mexico City until January 10, 2010.


Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Basualdo, Carlos. "Maxima Moralia: The Work of C. Meireles", Artforum International, v. 35 (February 1997) p. 58-63.
  • Carvalho, Denise. "Cildo Meireles: New Museum of Contemporary Art" Sculpture, v. 19 no. 10 (December 2000) p. 74-5.
  • Cohen, Ana Paula. "Cildo Meireles: Museu de Arte Moderna Aloisio Magalhaes", Art Nexus no. 44 (April/June 2002) p. 125-6.
  • Farmer, John Alan. "Through the Labyrinth: An Interview with Cildo Meireles", Art Journal v. 59 no. 3 (Fall 2000) p. 34-43.
  • Gilmore, Jonathan. "Cildo Meireles at Galerie Lelong", Art in America v. 93 no. 3 (March 2005) p. 132.
  • Mosquera, Gerardo. Cildo Meireles (London: Phaidon), 1999.
  • Weinstein, Joel. "Industrial Poetry: A Conversation with Cildo Meireles", Sculpture v. 22 no. 10 (December 2003) p. 50-5.
  • Zamudio, Raul. "Cildo Meireles at Tate Modern", ArtNexus v. 8. no. 73 (June/August, 2009) p. 76-78.
  • Zamudio, Raul. "Knowing Can Be Destroying", TRANS> no. 7 (2000) p. 146-152.

External links[edit]