Roberto Marconato



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In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Roberto Marconato born 1932
Photograph, gelatin silver print on paper
Image: 397 × 293 mm
Lent by the Tate Americas Foundation, courtesy of Latin American Acquisitions Committee 2017
On long term loan


This black and white photograph is a vintage print by Brazilian photographer Roberto Marconato. It shows a leafy plant photographed in high contrast against a light wall, so that it casts sharp shadows of its outlines. The right-hand side and bottom of the image are also in deep shadow; in the top right-hand corner ‘B5’ is affixed to the wall, possibly indicating an apartment or building number, and giving the work its title. Marconato was a member of one of Brazil’s numerous ‘photoclubs’ (see also the work of fellow Brazilian photoclub members Claudio H. Feliciano [Tate L03996], José Yalenti [Tate P11401P11402] and Ivo Ferreira da Silva [Tate L03995]) and made and exhibited work from the 1950s onwards. Historically referred to as amateurs or enthusiasts, photoclub photographers often had little or no formal training, but were nevertheless dedicated to making and exhibiting their work in their spare time. This absence of formal training often meant that their approach was unbound by convention and experimental in both technique and subject matter.

The emergence and popularity of photoclubs in Brazil in the late 1930s was seminal in developing a modernist photographic language in Latin America. At precisely the same time that modernist painting, sculpture, architecture and design were flourishing in Brazil, so too photographers began to experiment with new forms and techniques. The tradition of photoclubs, both in Brazil and around the world, dates back to the nineteenth century, reaching a high point in Brazil between 1940 and the 1960s. Gradually these photoclubs became more experimental and were referred to locally as ‘photoclubismo’. Founded in 1939, Foto Cine Clube Bandeirante (later known as Escola Paulista) based in São Paulo, was one of the largest and most prominent photoclubs in Brazil. Photoclubs created a context for the exchange of equipment, experiences, techniques and innovations, as well as a mingling of both amateurs and professionals. A number of the photographers had commercial careers in parallel with their avant-garde practice. However, many operated purely as enthusiasts, largely in their spare time; they nevertheless often built up extensive bodies of work and exchanged ideas and exhibited work in photoclubs across the globe. Evidence of such exchange and networks can be seen on the back of prints such as this one, which were stamped with each location in which they were exhibited, ranging from regional areas of Brazil to photoclubs in Mexico, Japan and Australia.

Further reading
Adriano Pedrosa, MASP. FCCB – Coleção Museu Arte de São Paulo Fotocine Clube, São Paulo 2015.
Lucas Menezes, ‘Where are the pretas of Bahia and the morenas of Rio? The collection of Brazilian photographs of the Société Française de Photographie’, conference paper, May 2017, published online at, accessed 1 September 2017.

Shoair Mavlian
October 2016, updated September 2017

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