Rafael Cardoso (art historian)

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Rafael Cardoso
Born (1964-06-04) June 4, 1964 (age 54)

Rafael Cardoso (born 4 June 1964) is a Brazilian writer and art historian. His published work includes numerous books and essays on the history of art and design in Brazil, mainly focused on the period between 1840 and 1930. He has also published four works of fiction, including Entre as Mulheres (2007) which first brought him to the attention of an international audience, particularly after its translation into German as Sechzehn Frauen (2013). His latest novel, O Remanescente (2016) was published simultaneously in Brazil, by Companhia das Letras, and Germany, by S. Fischer.

Early life and education[edit]

Rafael Cardoso Denis was born in Rio de Janeiro to a mixed cultural background. His father was a physician, born in France of Jewish German parents and immigrated to Brazil during the Second World War.[1] His great[2] grandfather is the great art collector Hugo Simon who had to go into exile in 1933 following the full powers of Hitler in 1933; hence the fact that a large part of his collection was looted and plundered by the Nazis. His mother comes from a well-known literary family in Minas Gerais, being the niece of renowned Brazilian writer Lúcio Cardoso, author of Crônica de Casa Assassinada (1959), and Maria Helena Cardoso, also a noted writer. When Cardoso was five, his parents moved to the United States, and he was brought up mainly in Virginia. He attended college at the Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore, from which he graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1985. He returned to Brazil shortly thereafter and obtained an MA in art history from the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, going on to do a PhD in art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, in London, from 1991 to 1995.[3]


Cardoso’s first books of fiction and non-fiction appeared in 2000, and he has continually published both, in parallel, since then. His first notable success was the design history textbook Uma Introdução à História do Design, now in its third edition and widely used in Brazilian universities.[4] He is well established as a historian of art and design in Brazil, having authored half a dozen books and hundreds of essays and articles, as well as editing and translating works by John Ruskin and Vilém Flusser.[5][6] In 2018, his book A arte brasileira em 25 quadros was made into a six-part series for Brazilian television channel Arte 1.[7] With O Remanescente, Cardoso brought his fiction and non-fiction writing together for the first time. The book is a historical novel, based on true facts, and tells the story of his father's family's flight from Germany in the 1930s, their exile in France and eventual refuge in Brazil.[8][9] The main character is the author's great-grandfather, Hugo Simon, a banker, socialist politician and art collector in Berlin, during the Weimar Republic, where he was a prominent cultural figure and briefly Minister of Finance of Prussia after the German Revolution of 1918-19.[10][11][12]

Cardoso pursued a full-time academic career from 1996 to 2012, working successively as a professor at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. He has also held temporary teaching or research positions at Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Hamburg, Getty Research Institute, Institut national d'histoire de l'art and Yale University. Since 2007, Cardoso has become increasingly known for his work as a curator, staging exhibitions of Brazilian art, both historical and contemporary. Among the major exhibitions he has curated are: Do Valongo à Favela: Imaginário e Periferia (Museu de Arte do Rio, 2014), Rio de Imagens: uma Paisagem em Construção (Museu de Arte do Rio, 2013), From the Margin to the Edge: Brazilian Art and Design in the 21st Century (Somerset House, London, 2012) and Eliseu Visconti: a Modernidade Antecipada (Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, 2011).[13][14][15][16] He has also written song lyrics, including the 1988 hit Vamos Dançar for Ed Motta & Conexão Japeri, and is co-author of the screenplay for the feature-length film Maresia (2016), together with director Marcos Guttmann and screenwriter Melanie Dimantas.[17]



O Remanescente (2016) [German edition, Das Vermächtnis der Seidenraupen, S. Fischer Verlag, 2016; Dutch edition, De vlucht van de familie Simon, Nieuw Amsterdam, 2017; Portuguese edition, O Remanescente, Compasso dos Ventos, 2018] ISBN 9788535928136
Entre as Mulheres (2007) [German edition, Sechzehn Frauen: Geschichten aus Rio, S. Fischer Verlag, 2013; Spanish edition, Dieciséis Mujeres, Alevosia, 2013] ISBN 9788501077011
Controle Remoto (2002) ISBN 8501063185
A Maneira Negra (2000) [Italian edition, Il falsario di Rio, Fabula, 2008] ISBN 8501057681


  • Hugo Simon in Berlin: Handlungsorte und Denkräume (2018) [co-edited with Anna-Dorothea Ludewig, German edition] ISBN 9783955652746
  • Do Valongo à Favela: Imaginário e periferia (2015) [co-edited with Clarissa Diniz] ISBN 9788568880012
  • Design para um Mundo Complexo (2012) ISBN 9788540500983
  • Impresso no Brasil, 1808-1930: Destaques da História Gráfica no Acervo da Biblioteca Nacional (2009) ISBN 9788562767005
  • Marcas do Progresso: Consumo e Design no Brasil do Século XIX (2009) [co-authored w/ Cláudia Beatriz Heynemann & Maria do Carmo Teixeira Rainho] ISBN 9788560207220
  • A Arte Brasileira em 25 Quadros (1790-1930) (2008) ISBN 9788501071736
  • O Design Brasileiro antes do Design: Aspectos da História Gráfica, 1870-1960 (2005) ISBN 8575034286
  • Uma Introdução à História do Design (2000) ISBN 9788521204565
  • Art and the Academy in the Nineteenth Century (2000) [co-edited w/Colin Trodd] ISBN 0719054958


  1. ^ Karnofsky, Eva. "Homage an die Metropole am Zuckerhut". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  2. ^ Institut National d'Histoire de l'Art
  3. ^ Chagas, Eduarda. "Rafael Cardoso literário". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. ^ Laus, Egeu. "Rafael Cardoso: Entre as Mulheres". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  5. ^ "Rafael Cardoso". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Currículo Lattes Rafael Cardoso Denis". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Arte Brasileira Quadro a Quadro estreia no Arte 1". Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  8. ^ Meireles, Maurício. "Autor resgata história de familiares judeus que tinham identidade secreta". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  9. ^ Albuquerque, Carlos. "Em "O remanescente", autor carioca faz pazes com Alemanha". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  10. ^ Cardoso, Rafael (October 2016). "Der rote Bankier". Weltkunst (120): 64–69. Retrieved 10 October 2016.
  11. ^ Klinger-Clavijo, Margrit. "Beeindruckendes Porträt von Künstlern im Exil". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  12. ^ Steinkraus, Doris. "Der eigenen Geschichte ganz nah". Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  13. ^ "From the Margin to the Edge: Brazilian Art and Design in the 21st century". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  14. ^ "ELISEU VISCONTI - A MODERNIDADE ANTECIPADA". Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  15. ^ "RIO DE IMAGENS: uma paisagem em construção". 2013-06-25. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  16. ^ "Do Valongo à Favela: Imaginário e Periferia". 2013-06-25. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  17. ^ "Maresia". Retrieved 27 February 2017.


External links[edit]