Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism
Penteado, Yolanda and Matarazzo, Ciccillo (Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho)
Leme, São Paulo, 1903–Stanford, 1983, and São Paulo, 1898–São Paulo, 1977
Yolanda Penteado and her husband Ciccillo Matarazzo were Brazilian philanthropists and art collectors who helped establish three of São Paulo’s most important cultural institutions: the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAMSP), the Bienal de São Paulo, and the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC-USP). Their combined collection, a total of 438 objects by Brazilian and international artists, formed the nucleus of MAMSP’s original modern art collection, which was transferred to MAC-USP in 1963, where it is housed today.

Penteado and Ciccillo were both independently wealthy and became lifelong supporters of the arts. Penteado was the daughter of successful coffee farmers and a member of the rural aristocracy of São Paulo. She was the niece of Olivia Guedes Penteado, a great patron of the arts in the 1920s, who supported the work of emerging modern artists and developed her own impressive collection of modern art. Ciccillo was the son of Italian immigrants and heir to a large metallurgical industrial complex. While both were already interested in different aspects of the arts, it was not until after their marriage in 1947 that they became directly involved in developing a collection and the institutions that would house it.

In 1948, with the support of American businessman and politician Nelson Rockefeller and the writer Sérgio Milliet, Ciccillo began leading the effort to establish a modern art museum in São Paulo, which would be modeled after the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The MAMSP opened in 1948 with a collection of seventy-nine works purchased by Ciccillo and Penteado in Italy and France between 1946–47. Although this collection has often been characterized as a private collection, scholars have shown that these works were acquired with advisors specifically for the purposes of forming a core collection for the MAMSP. After the founding the couple continued to add to the collection through gifts until 1962, when it was transferred to the newly founded MAC-USP; in 1976, they made a final donation of nineteen works by international artists to the MAC-USP.

Beyond their commitment to these two institutions, Penteado and Ciccillo also played a central role in the inception and realization of the São Paulo Biennial. The couple organized the first two iterations of the event, and Ciccillo was also the president of the biennial’s foundation from its start in 1962 until 1975. For the second biennial in 1953, Penteado led efforts that resulted in the presentation of Picasso’s Guernica (1937; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid) in Brazil for the first time.

Although Penteado and Ciccillo were not specifically committed to collecting a particular style of art but rather modern art in general, they did acquire several important works by Cubists, including Georges Braque’s Still Life (1911), Albert Gleizes’s Landscape (1912), André Lhote’s Still Life with a Fan (1912), Fernand Léger’s Composition (1936), and Picasso’s Figures (1945), among many others, which are found in the collection of the MAC-USP today. The Penteado-Matarazzo collection also includes a notable group of seventy-one works of early twentieth-century Italian modernism, the largest collection of its kind outside of Europe. International and Brazilian artists represented in the collection include Tarsila do Amaral, Alexander Calder, Lygia Clark, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Anita Malfatti, Joan Miró, Vasily Kandinsky, Amedeo Modigliani, and Alfredo Volpi.

Contributed by Maria Castro, July 2017
For more information, see:
Ajzenberg, Elza. Ciccillo: acervo MAC USP : Homenagem a Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, Ciccillo. São Paulo: MAC-USP, 2006.

Gonçalves Magalhães, Ana. “Uma nova luz sobre o acervo modernista MAC-USP: estudos em torno das coleções Matarazzo.” Revista USP, no.90 (June 2011): 200-216.

Lourenço, Maria Cecília França. Museus acolhem moderno. São Paulo: Edusp, 1999.

Penteado, Yolanda. Tudo em cor-de-rosa. São Paulo: Edição da Autora, 1977.