Sérvulo Esmeraldo1929 - 2017 , born in Brazil
Sérvulo Esmeraldo

“Geometry describes everything that you see.”


Sculptor, engraver, draftsman, and kinetic artist Sérvulo Esmeraldo began his artistic career in the late 1940s in northern Brazil, where he attended the open studio of the Sociedade Cearense de Artes Plásticas in Fortaleza. In 1951, he moved to São Paulo to study architecture, his arrival coinciding fortuitously with the first Bienal de São Paulo. Interested in mathematics, geometry, and physics, Esmeraldo also studied mechanics, electricity, and optics; these studies continue to influence his artistic output.


Like many Latin American artists in the 1950s, Esmeraldo moved to Europe to continue his studies and pursue a career; he lived in France from 1957 to 1977. While there, he worked and lived in close contact with an expatriate Brazilian community of artists, including Vicente do Rego Monteiro, Lygia Clark, Sérgio de Camargo, Franz Krajcberg, Arthur Luiz Piza, Flávio-Shiró, and Rossini Peres. He took classes in printmaking at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and learned metal engraving in the studio of Johnny Friedlaender. During his first years in France, he also made weekly visits to the National Library, where he studied prints by Albrecht Dürer. In 1959, he was invited to participate in the fifth Bienal de São Paulo, marking the growing recognition of his work. He simultaneously pursued commercial work designing book covers, magazine illustrations, and record album covers.


In the early 1960s, Esmeraldo began making paintings and art objects he called Excitables, works which were activated by the static electricity from the viewer’s touch. “Charges run through them,” he noted, “jumping from element to element, modifying the structure of the composition.” Upon his return to Brazil in 1977, Esmeraldo started making public art projects. He organized two international exhibitions of ephemeral sculptures in 1986 and 1991, in which he invited artists from around the world to send designs for sculptures, to be completed and installed by preparators in his hometown of Ceará, Brazil. The exhibitions were unprecedented events in the history of public art production. Throughout Esmeraldo’s work—whether in printmaking, sculpture, or kinetic projects—a close observation of nature underpins his constructions. He returns consistently to the idea of line as an abstract value, and he observes, “For a question of temperament I was led to the purity of forms, balance, constraint, in short, simplicity…”



2015Traço, Volume, Espaço, Galeria Raquel Arnaud, São Paulo, Brazil
2014Sérvulo Esmeraldo, Paulo Darzé Galeria de Arte, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.
2013: Pinturas, Desenhos, Gravuras, Esculturas, Objetos e Excitáveis, Pinakotheke Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sérvulo Esmeraldo, Palácio da Abolição, Fortaleza, Brazil
2012: Simples como um triângulo, Galería Raquel Arnaud, São Paulo, Brazil
2011: Sérvulo Esmeraldo, Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo, Brazil
2010: Ocupação de Espaço, Centro Cultural Banco do Nordeste, Fortaleza, Brazil
Servulo Esmeraldo, Les Excitables, Art Outsiders, Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris, France
Correspondência, Centro Cultural dos Correios, Fortaleza, Brazil
2008: Sérvulo Esmeraldo por Mota Machado - Obras de 40 anos, Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
2007: Sérvulo Esmeraldo, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura, Fortaleza, Brazil
1999: Centro Cultural do Abolição, Salão de Abril, Fortaleza (Ceará), Brazil
1988: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, (etchings 1949/1987), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1985: ARTE Galeria (retrospective 1947-1985), Fortaleza (Ceará), Brazil
1979: Centro Venezolano de Cultura, Bogotá, Colombia
1977: Galeria Memória, Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Brazil
1976: Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), Brazil
Gabinete de Artes Gráficas, São Paulo (São Paulo), Brazil
1975: White Gallery, Lausanne, Switzerland
1962: Galeria de Arte de Recife, Recife (Pernambuco), Brazil
Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador (Bahia), Brazil
Centro de Artes, Ciências e Letras, Campinas (São Paulo), Brazil
1957: Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo (São Paulo), Brazil
1956: Clube dos Artistas, São Paulo (São Paulo), Brazil


Sérvulo Esmeraldo’s work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, including: Works on Paper: 1960-2000, Sicardi Gallery (2011); Gesto e Expressão: o abstracionismo informal nas coleções do Museu de Arte Moderna, MAM, São Paulo (2004); XIX Bienal Internacional de São Paulo (1987); XIV Trienal de Milan (1967); VI International Graphics Exhibition, Krakow, Poland (1966); VII Bienal de São Paulo (1963); VI Bienal de São Paulo (1961); and V Bienal de São Paulo (1959).


Banco do Nordeste do Brasil, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Biblioteca Nacional, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Biblioteca Pública de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Bolsa de Valores Regional, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Cabinet des Estampes, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France

Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnatti, OH, USA

Collection Oboé Cultural, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Collections Publiques du Gouvernement Français, Paris, France

Espace de L’Art Concret, Donation Albers-Honneger, Mouans-Sartoux, France

Fonds National d'Art Contemporain, Paris, France

Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon, Portugal

Gemeentemuseum, Den Haag, The Netherlands

Governo do Estado do Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Graphic studio, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, USA

Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint Étienne, Saint-Étienne, France

Musée Rate, Geneva, Switzerland

Museo de Arte de La Habana, Havana, Cuba

Museo de la Solidaridad Fundación Salvador Allende, Santiago, Chile

Museu da Gravura de Curitiba, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Museu de Arte da Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Museu de Arte de Londrina – Londrina, Paraná, Brazil

Museu de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil

Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Museu de Arte Vicente Leite, Crato, Ceará, Brazil

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje, Macedonia

NovoMuseu, Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil

Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy

Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo,São Paulo, Brazil

Prefeitura Municipal de Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

Secretaria da Cultura do Estado do Ceará - Centro de artes visuais Raimundo Cela, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil

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