The first two decades of the 20th century are marked by major changes in the Brazilian and world scene. The First World War (1914-1918) precipitated several economic and production demands in Brazil, on the one hand, and on the other, artists and intellectuals began to feel the need to update themselves in their contexts.

Still very attached to the academicism and French influences of the Belle Époque, some young people from São Paulo, intellectuals and artists begin to feel the need for a renewal of the arts, at the same time that they are engaged in a search for national identity, resuming cultural roots from the country. All of this, added to the contact with the European avant-garde and the proximity of the celebrations of the first centenary of Independence, converge in the outbreak of Brazilian Modernism with the Modern Art Week of 1922.

Catalog of the Week, made by Di Cavalcanti.

1922 Modern Art Week poster: important year for the history of Brazil and Votorantim


Also in 1922, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Independence of Brazil (1822), the International Exhibition for the Centenary of Independence was held, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, from September 7, 1922 to July 1923. In its galleries over 3 million people traveled, visiting more than 6 thousand exhibitors from different countries, totaling 14 nations involved. The purpose of the exhibition was to show the world how Brazil was a modern nation, through themes that represented the most diverse aspects of Brazilian social, cultural and economic life, in addition to commemorating the 100 years of the country’s political independence.

The various pavilions were built especially for the exhibition, causing urban and architectural changes in the city. In addition to the Votorantim Memory, the National Archives keeps an interesting collection of these buildings and the history of the Exhibition.

Image from the National Archives website: -1922-memoria-e-civilizacao.html

Votorantim and Cinema: Show the world that we are modern

The First World War ended in 1918, in Europe. With this, the International Exhibition was one of the first international events inaugurated after the conflict, and carried the intention of showing the modernization of the nations involved, leaving behind the setbacks of the War. The Brazilian government then sponsored the production of films and documentaries that represented the most different aspects of Brazilian society, such as the arts, commerce and industry. The presence of cinema in Brazil was recent, which made it a novelty and little accessible.

Several studios were selected by the Government, from the most varied Brazilian states, to produce films and documentaries to be shown in the exhibition. The State of São Paulo was represented by the Independência Film studio, by Augusto Pamplona and the brothers Del Picchia, Menotti and José, whose reputation transcended the Exhibition itself, since Del Picchia and Pamplona are famous for their participation in the Modern Art Week. The studio was to produce a five-part film, covering different aspects of the city: historic, panoramic, industrial and commercial, agricultural and administrative.

To represent the industrial part, a modern Fabric Factory was chosen because it is a model factory. It had more than 2,000 workers, modern machinery, a railroad supplying its logistical needs, a large hydroelectric plant generating energy exclusively for weaving.

It was the Fábrica de Tecidos Votorantim, owned by the Anonyma Fábrica Votorantim (SAFV), a company owned by Antonio Pereira Ignacio. The film is divided into 9 parts, highlighting the role of Antonio Pereira Ignacio in the development of the factory and the region, the railways, the spinning area, the weaving itself, the flannel session, the sawmill, the workers’ village, the lime plants and the other industrial areas that belonged to SAFV.

The documentary is now part of the Votorantim Memory collection and marks a very important period of the arts, society and the Brazilian economy.