On one of the sculptures that he designed for the Passeio Público park in Rio de Janeiro, the artist Mestre Valentim – responsible for the most representative public works in Rio at the turn of the 18th and 19th century– inscribed the phrase for the love of the public. The dedication, which at the same time is the invoking of a relationship of affection with the city, appears on a pyramid located in the middle of the park, one of the first urban interventions of a geometric character in the history of the country, and one of the last sculptures designed by Valentim for the Passeio Público. From the artist’s commitment to the constitution of the capitality of Rio de Janeiro (then in the process of affirmation) and from this call of love come forms of engagement of art with the creation of memory and imagination of the cities and, in particular, Rio.
MAR walks shoulder to shoulder with Master Valentim. It assumes itself as a loving public and, as such, seeks the love of the public in its commitment to the continued forming of imaginaries of Rio and Brazil. In this sense, the shaping of the MAR Collection is understood as a programme that must engage all of society, whose diversity and singularities are, at the same time, the aesthetic, social and political guide for this collection. For this reason, under the management of Instituto Odeon, MAR develops a vertebral donation policy, through which society conducts, along with the curatorship of MAR, the route for what is the first collection of a museum of art in the municipality of Rio de Janeiro.
Through donations from collectors, artists, galleries, institutions etc., MAR establishes its main funds (donations made up of a set of more than 20 pieces) and clusters of meanings, a form of organising the collection guided by questions that intertwine with the most distinct authors, periods, languages and techniques around common interests. In turn, For the love of the public I – donations at ArtRio (2012-2015) and MinC/Funarte – A tribute to Cely Mesquita bring together objects that are part of several funds and clusters from the MAR Collection, but that were donated to the museum during recent editions of ArtRio, the art fair held in Rio de Janeiro. During the fairs – and in dialogue with artists, researchers, collectors and gallery owners –, the curatorship of MAR indicated works of interest to its collection using specific signs that were designed to identify a MAR wish list. Encountering the signs for the wish list throughout the fair, innumerable collectors, artists, business people and gallery owners donated the works to the MAR Collection and, thereby, for the love of the public. To everybody who, since 2012, has joined the MAR donation policy, we offer our sincerest thanks.
As well as the artworks arising from donations that were made during ArtRio, this exhibition also brings to the public three recent donations that were made possible through public funding calls from Funarte: an expressive set of work by Vera Chaves Barcellos (Rio Grande do Sul), which makes MAR a centre of reference for her work; Popular Brazilian housing, a series of social character by Evandro Salles (Rio de Janeiro) and Still life, photographs that unsettle cartography and identities of Rio, by Louise Ganz and Ines Linke (Minas Gerais). A tribute is, finally, one of the axes of For the love of the public, shedding light on the affectionate relationships that constitute, in the words of Master Valentim, our relationship with the city and, therefore, the relationship of the city of Rio de Janeiro with MAR. It is a tribute to Cely Mesquita, whose generosity contributed immensely to MAR in the form of the Cely, Ronie and Conrado Mesquita Fund. Cely will always represent, through her affectionate dedication and engagement with art and life, one of the fundamental features of the spirit of the Museu de Arte do Rio, the person who understands that we exist with, and through the other. A museum launched for the love of the public.