Samson Flexor: beyond modern current exhibitions

Exhibition period: January 21 - June 26, 2022
Opening times: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.


tickets here


The Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo opens the exhibition Samson Flexor: além do moderno (Samsom Flexor: beyond modern) on January 22, 2022. Known as one of the pioneers of abstract art in Brazil, Flexor was actively involved in the renewal of visual arts in the country during the 1950s. His contribution to geometric abstraction, as an artist as well as the mentor for a new generation in his Ateliê Abstração (Abstraction Atelier) in the 1950s, is widely acknowledged by art critics. However, his later work – which is marked by a lyrical or informal abstraction, and by the return to figuration in the last 5 years of his life – remains little known by the public. According to the curator, Kiki Mazzucchelli, “this is the first exhibition that focuses on Flexor’s production after 1957, when he started rejecting rigidity , employing opacity and transparency, and more gestural aspects prevail. The exhibition sheds light on Samson Flexor’s late works, which mark his transition from modern to contemporary, as he confronts the ethical and aesthetic issues of his time.

The show is comprised by almost 100 pieces, dating between 1922 and 1970. Very known works are included, such as Abstração Barroca n.2 (Baroque Abstraction n. 2, 1949), which combines the geometrization of figures and Brazilian themes; Aos pés da cruz (At the foot of the cross, 1948), a painting originally showed at the MAM São Paulo in 1950, which can be considered almost entirely abstract; and Vai e vem diagonal em três quadrados (Coming and going diagonal in three squares, 1954), a painting from his purely abstract phase, in which he explored crossed diagonals, creating a movement accentuated by chromatic contrasts.

Another indispensable element in understanding Flexor’s work is his close relationship with the city of São Paulo. In the 1950s, his painting grew closer to the Concrete art movement (Concretismo), which alluded to industrial modernization and urban growth. As the critic Sérgio Milliet pointed out, “for Flexor, the decisive orientation in favor of abstraction does not only result from an intellectual process, but also from the daily contemplation of the spectacle that offers the frenetic development of São Paulo, where everything leans towards the future and despises the colonial past.” Nonetheless, Flexor never officially subscribed to the Concrete movement, whose more orthodox members he jokingly nicknamed “concretinistas” (concretinists).

When he began his late phase, marked by the double impact of the military coup in Brazil and the diagnosis of a terminal illness in 1964, he produced and exhibited figurative works, such as pieces from the remarkable series “Bípedes” (Bipeds), shown for the first time at the IX Bienal de São Paulo, in 1967. The impact of such events is perceptible in Flexor’s production, expressing reflections on patriarchal violence and human fragility based on large grotesque figures and torn bodies. In his last pieces, produced between 1970-71, Flexor continued to explore organic themes, this time in contrast to geometry, in an exercise of distancing and opposing body and mind.

“The Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, continuing the reflections it promoted throughout 2021 on the centenary of the Semana de Arte Moderna de 1922 (1922 Modern Art Week), unfolds its program beyond modernism, showcasing an artist who contributed to the consolidation of abstract art in Brazil in the 1950s”, comments Elizabeth Machado, president of the museum’s Board of Directors.


About the artist

Samson Flexor landed in Brazil in the late 1940s after leaving France in the aftermath of World War II. The painter held his first exhibition in São Paulo in 1946 and returned permanently in 1948. He also participated in the inaugural exhibition of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, in 1949 – he was invited and encouraged by the Belgian critic and director Leon Dégand to explore the paths of pure geometric abstraction. In 1951, the year of the first Bienal de São Paulo, he founded the Ateliê Abstração (Abstraction Atelier), where he mentored, for over a decade, a new generation of artists – among which, Jacques Douchez and Norberto Nicola. Throughout his career, he held several solo shows at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo and the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, as well as in numerous Brazilian and foreign galleries. He participated in several editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, and held a major retrospective of his work at the Musée Rath, in Geneva (1965) – and an expanded version of this show was presented at MAM-RJ in 1968. Flexor died in 1971, aged 64, after a lung edema.



Samson Flexor: além do moderno (Samson Flexor: beyond modern)
Curator: Kiki Mazzucchelli
Exhibition period: January 22 to June 26, 2022
Where: Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo
Address: Parque Ibirapuera (Av. Pedro Álvares Cabral, s/nº – Gates 1 and 3)
Hourss: Tuesdays to Sundays, 10am to 6pm (last entrance until 5:30pm)
Phone: (11) 5085-1300
Admission: R$25,00. Free admission on Sundays. Previous booking is mandatory.
Tickets are available at

Half-price tickets are available to students with Student ID; low income youth; and people over 60. Admission is free for children under the age of 10; for people with disabilities and their carers; for teachers and directors from public state and municipal education; patrons and students of MAM; for employees from partner companies and museums; for members of the ICOM, AICA and ABCA, with ID; for employees of  SPTuris and the Municipal Secretary of Culture.