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Churches  (1956)


Churches: Congonhas do Campo

1956  ink and colored pencil on paper  15 x 13½ in

Ripley was fascinated by eighteenth-century Brazilian sculptor Aleijadinho ("the Little Cripple"), who suffered amputation of his fingers but with tools tied to his wrists went on to sculpt the medallions, doorways, and statues that made Minas Gerais a rich center of the Brazilian baroque. His most famous works are the twelve statues that front Bom Jesus de Matosinhos in Congonhas do Campo.

Ripley's homage to Aleijadinho was combined with his delight in the formalist arguments of his critic friend, Clement Greenberg, to result in a series of "Churches" in which the commentary seems burned away and only an affectionate, apprehensive irony remains. On the same wallpaper with the baroque edifice in Congonhas do Campo he placed a Victorian pleasure balloon and a modernist painting by Italian artist Afro Basaldella. Years later, an art that posed the moral and aesthetic equivalence of styles would be called postmodernist.–abridged from Douglas Crase, Both: A Portrait in Two Parts, 203-4.

Churches: Ouro Prêto

1956  ink and colored pencil on paper  13 x 15½ in


Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale

Rupert Barneby, Dwight Ripley, Clement Greenberg 1951

No one delighted in modern art more than Dwight, but piety was not one of his attributes.  –John Bernard Myers, Tracking the Marvelous.


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