The Experience of Osório Cesar and Flávio de Carvalho in Juquery
A expressão artística dos alienados (“The Artistic Expression of the Alienated”, 1929) was the first book on the works of psychiatric patients in Brazil. Written by physician Osório Cesar, who was born in the state of São Paulo, the book has numerous illustrations, mostly from his own collection or from Hospital do Juquery, including indigenous works from the collection of Museu Nacional as well.
Osório Cesar was a hybrid intellectual like his European colleagues, German psychiatrists Hans Prinzhorn, Hermann Simon and French psychiatrist Marcel Réja. Born in the state of Paraíba, he was a violinist and a dentistry graduate who later attended medical school. He was married to painter Tarsila do Amaral for three years.
In 1933, Osório Cesar and artist Flávio de Carvalho organized the Madmen and Children Week, an exhibition that brought together drawings by São Paulo schoolchildren and works by inmates at Juquery. The purpose of the event was to present the psychological and philosophical aspects of artistic creation to the intellectuals of São Paulo and to question the technical training of art in schools and art institutes.
– Eurípedes Gomes da Cruz Junior (2015)
The artworks are a creation of fantasy […] The issue of models, measures, cannons is the confinement, the death, so to speak, of the creative artist. In order to be brilliant, art has to be free.
– Osório César (1924)
[…] there is a very interesting, a very peculiar art, an art capable of producing deep impressions on those who admire it, a frantic art, but, for this very same reason, attractive; an art that is always surprising us. This art that is completely unknown to you is the art of the insane. You need to get in touch with it, if only to drop the wrong conviction that madness is a great night without stars. Come and see what beauty comes out of the hands of the Juquery inmates and spreads over the white paper. Come to abandon this unshakable assumption of normal men and try to convince yourself that common normality—because the absolute does not exist—is what is called, in good Latin, aurea mediocritas.
– Flávio de Carvalho (1933)
Paintings of patients are known in practically all the oldest mental health institutions. They either motivated the foundation of small museums or were attached to collections that already existed and which had mannequins modeled on bread, tools used to escape, plaster representing abnormal parts of the human body; in other words, they were very similar to those collections of curios.
– Hans Prinzhorn (1922)