Rubens Gerchman

About the Artist

Rubens Gerchman was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (seen below) in 1942, where he studied at the city’s School of Fine Arts. He began his career in the 1960s, shunning the dominant styles of the day - Modernism,  Social RealismSocialist realism was the official style in the arts in the Soviet Union (USSR) from the early 1930s until the decline of Communism in the 1980s, disappearing entirely by the time of that country's dissolution in 1989. The onset of socialist realism meant the end of the avant-garde, notably in abstraction in such Russian art movements as Constructivism and Suprematism. The style was a conservative, figurative and narrative one, meant to be accessible to all viewers, and never to deviate from the Party line. In painting and sculpture, it was devoted to glorifying the state, its leaders (such as Nikolai Lenin, 1870-1924), and the people, idealizing the working class. In architecture, it excluded all but functional design within a traditional context, in a severe manner sometimes known as "Stalinist gothic." Be careful not to confuse socialist realism with social realism. (Artlex.com)  and Abstraction – in favour of mass culture. Throughout his career he has used his art to criticize what he regards as social wrongs and injustice.

Rio Je Janeiro

In his early years Gerchman developed a comic strip  styleA way of doing something. Use of materials, methods of working, design qualities and choice of subject matter reflect the style of the individual, culture, movement, or time period.  in his paintings using multiple images of people’s faces clipped from news photos.  (See http://www.escritoriodearte.com/listarQuadros.asp?artista=107 for some examples of this style). He also employed techniques from Pop Art, such as silkscreening and incorporated bright colours.  He used these two aspects of  Pop ArtAn art movement and style that had its origins in England in the 1950s and made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists have focused attention upon familiar images of the popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, and supermarket products. Leading exponents are Richard Hamilton (British, 1922-), Andy Warhol (American, 1928?1930?-1987), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Claes Oldenburg (American, 1929-), Jasper Johns (American, 1930-), and Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-). (Artlex.com)  to criticize what he saw as society’s preoccupation with material wealth and satisfaction with mediocrity. 

In the late 1960s Gerchman began exploring his interest in urban isolation and alienation, producing boxes and containers to be opened by spectators, and made a  seriesA number of things or events standing or succeeding in order, and connected by a like relation; sequence; order; course; a succession of things; as, a continuous series of calamitous events. (The Online Plain Text English Dictionary)  of mixed  mediaAny material and technique used to produce a work of art (paint, glass, clay, fibre, video, sound, etc.). It may also refer to the liquid with which powdered pigments are mixed to make paint. Note that the plural form of “medium” is “media.”  collages on wood, titled Caixa de morar (Box to Live In). He also began to include letters and words in his paintings, photographs and sculptures, stemming from his interest in concrete (visual) poetry. Art historian Reynaldo Roels said that Gerchman’s early work “changed the course of Brazilian art for more than two decades.” (Latin Collector media release, 2002)

Gerchman moved to New York in 1968, and over the next five years he adapted to his new audience by creating works with English words. He then began to develop themes that he had only touched on earlier in his career, including soccer players and couples kissing. These later works included portraits of well-known soccer players and paintings of crowds of people, and couples.  These paintings are significant for their sensuality and vibrant colours. He also created miniature versions of his images encased in cigar boxes, experimented with upside-down maps, and designed jewelry, using gold and Brazilian gemstones, to present his images in a different medium.

Gerchman’s works have been shown at galleries and museums throughout North and South America and in Europe. His work influenced a generation of Brazilian artists, and his comic strips inspired a form of  pop artAn art movement and style that had its origins in England in the 1950s and made its way to the United States during the 1960s. Pop artists have focused attention upon familiar images of the popular culture such as billboards, comic strips, magazine advertisements, and supermarket products. Leading exponents are Richard Hamilton (British, 1922-), Andy Warhol (American, 1928?1930?-1987), Roy Lichtenstein (American, 1923-1997), Claes Oldenburg (American, 1929-), Jasper Johns (American, 1930-), and Robert Rauschenberg (American, 1925-). (Artlex.com)  in Brazil based on people and events in the news.


Canadian Heritage University of Regina Mackenzie Art Gallery Mendel Art Gallery Sask Learning