The work and life of Eleonore Koch (1926, Berlin, Germany – 2018, São Paulo, Brazil) were guided by an understanding of art as a unique craft, fueled by constant dedication. Deciding to reject the conventions of marriage and gender of the era and social environment she lived in, Koch thus maintained a certain autonomy for the study and practice of art. Her education relied on constant visits to the studios of more experienced artists, including Yolanda Mohalyi, Bruno Giorgi and Alfredo Volpi. The artist attributed her adoption of painting with tempera and the intensification of her reflections on how colors are used to her conversations with Volpi.
The pictorial work that she started making in the 1960s was also an exercise of autonomy. Without assimilating resources from informal abstractionism or from the post-war concretists, Koch produced silent figurative paintings, composed of forms and fields of colors planned and organized around the horizontal line. Her still lifes and landscapes were often created from successive studies that started from photographs or postcards and which sought a synthesis of the elements, leading to the point where the space between the shapes became more dominant than the actual objects being represented. She then focused on giving color to the planes and forms, creating scenes that evoked feeling, even if they were stripped of human figures, narratives or any signs of the passage of time.
Despite having participated in important exhibitions, including four editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, Koch is still not universally recognized, as she deserves to be, as being amongst the most important Brazilian artists of the second half of the last century.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).