Paulistanos are justifiably proud of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP, Av. Paulista 1578, Cerqueira César, São Paulo, tel. 11/3251-5644, www.masp.art.br , 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., till 8 p.m. Thurs., R$15, free Tues.), considered one of Latin America’s finest art museums. The top floor boasts Brazil’s most important collection of European art, including multiple works by Flemish, Italian Renaissance, and French Impressionist painters along with some wonderful Degas sculptures in bronze.
Foreign visitors, however, might be more captivated by artists who are less known outside of Brazil —paintings by leading Brazilian modernists as well as works by foreign artists/adventurers. Among the most interesting of these were Jean-Baptiste Debret, a French artist and engraver who specialized in vivid portraits of African slaves and Indians in early 19th-century Rio , and Franz Post, a Dutch baroque painter whose Edenic renderings of Brazil inspired tapestries made by the famed French Gobelins factory.
Unfortunately, of the 7,000 works in Museu de Arte de São Paulo’s collection, only around 500 are ever on display at a given time. In compensation, the temporary exhibitions are often of international caliber.
As striking as the art on display is the Museu de Arte de São Paulo itself. The inspired creation of the vanguard architect Lina Bo Bardi (who was born in Italy and naturalized in Brazil), the building consists of a giant box suspended above the ground by four spindly bright red pillars. The effect is quite impressive, and it’s hardly surprising that since its completion in 1968, Museu de Arte de São Paulo has become one of São Paulo ’s most beloved and recognizable landmarks.