On 11 June 1927, Francisco de Paula de Almeida Brennand was born to Ricardo Monteiro Brennand and Olímpia Padilha Nunes Coimbra.
He went to live in Rio de Janeiro, in 1937, enrolling in Colégio Aldridge, in Botafogo Beach, and the following year, in Colégio São Vicente de Paula, in Petrópolis, as a boarder.
In 1939, on his return to Recife, he enrolled in Colégio Marista, where he finished his primary schooling in 1942. He began working at the ceramic factory Cerâmica São João, which belonged to his father, and as an informal student of the sculptor Abelardo da Hora.
In 1943, he went to study at Colégio Oswaldo Cruz to conclude his secondary education, where he met Deborah de Moura Vasconcelos, who would later become his wife.
From an early age his talent was revealed through caricatures of his teachers and classmates. In 1945, Ariano Suassuna, at the time his classmate, invited him to illustrate poems published in the school’s Jornal Literário (Literary Journal) he organised.
He began to be guided by the painter and restorer Álvaro Amorim, one of the founders of the Pernambuco School of Fine Arts, which had been hired to restore the João Peretti collection that his father had bought.
Ricardo Brennand invited various artists to paint a natural landscape at the São João factory, including Álvaro Amorim, Balthazar da Câmara, Mário Nunes and Murillo La Greca. Francisco closely followed the work and began painting landscapes, transforming an abandoned house at the factory into his first workshop. He studied painting with Murillo La Greca and his first sculpture was the head of Deborah, made in clay.
In 1947, he received his first painting award at the Art Salon of the Pernambuco State Museum, with a painting of a landscape inspired by the São João factory titled Segunda visão da terra (Second vision of the Earth). The following year, he again received the award and an honourable mention for his self-portrait as a Cardinal of the Inquisition, inspired by the portrait of the Inquisition Cardinal, Dom Fernando Nino de Guevara, by El Greco.
The Pernambuco painter Cícero Dias, living in Paris, held an exposition in Recife. Brennand then showed him his work and engaged in constant dialogue with him regarding painting. Impressed by the talent and conviction of the young artist, Cícero Dias convinced his friend Ricardo Brennand to send his son to Paris.
At the end of 1948, he married Deborah and, in February 1949, the couple set off for Paris, taking up residence in the Hotel Montalambert, where many intellectuals and artists used to stay. There, he met Almada Negreiros, a friend of Fernando Pessoa, the surrealist poet René Char and also Fernando Léger. However, in October, they returned to Brazil because of problems with health and settling in.
The Brennand family’s tile factory opened in 1954 and in it Francisco Brennand created his first large panel in ceramic.
In 1955, he participated in the III Barcelona Biennial, in Spain. In 1958, he unveiled the mural at the Guararapes International Airport in Recife and, 1961, the Anchieta mural, at Ginásio Itanhaém, in São Paulo city.
Between 1961 and 1962 he worked on of the most significant pieces of his career: Batalha dos Guararapes (The Battle of Gurarapes), for an agency of a bank, Banco da Lavoura de Minas Gerais, in Recife. The panel dealt with the Dutch expulsion from Brazil.
It was from Francisco Brennand that came the idea to transform the old Recife Detention House to the current Casa da Cultura (Culture House), in the period when he served as Governor’s Secretary of State in the first term of Miguel Arraes, from 1963 until the eve of the military coup in 1964. He wished to create an institution in Pernambuco similar to those created in France by the writer André Malraux.
He has participated in various national, international and collective expositions. His work has received various prizes, the most important of them being the Gabriela Mistral Inter-American Prize for Culture, awarded by the Organisation of America States (OEA), Washington, USA, in 1993. The award was created in 1983 by the Council for Education, Science and Culture of the OEA as recognition for work that has continuing action and achieves a great degree of enrichment to the culture of the Americas. The name Gabriela Mistral is in honour of the first Latin-American writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1945.
A large part of the artist’s work can be found at the Francisco Brennand Ceramic Workshop (Oficina Cerâmica), created in 1971, in the Várzea neighbourhood, Recife. The Workshop operates on the site of the old São João Ceramic factory, which manufactured tiles and bricks, founded in 1917 by his father, Ricardo Brennand. The factory, closed in 1945, remained abandoned and almost in ruins until it was reconstructed by Francisco Brennand, who made use of the existing structure with a few adaptations. Today it is one of the most important tourist spot of Recife. Housing over 2,000 of the artist’s pieces, with a garden designed by Roberto Burle Marx, a store, the Bibliopolion, where books about the artist, ceramic pieces, postcards, serigraphs and a luncheonette, called Cantina dos Deuses (Canteen of the Gods) can be found.
Recife, 15 July 2003. (Updated on 28 August 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
Updated on 02 may 2017.
BRENNAND: esculturas 1974-1978. São Paulo: Pinacoteca, 1998. [s.p.].
CARRAZONE, Eric. Brennand e a Casa da Cultura. Suplemento Cultural D. O. PE, Recife, a.10, p.9, jan. 1997.
CONTINENTE MULTICULTURAL, Recife, a.1, n.6, jun. 2001.
FERRAZ, Marilourdes. Oficina Cerâmica Francisco Brennand: usina de sonhos. Recife: AIP, 1997. 147p.
FRANCISCO Brennand [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <goo.gl/NpMbWw>. Acesso em: 03 fev. 2017.
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Source: GASPAR, Lúcia. Francisco Brennand. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.