Orpheu, launched in Lisbon in 1915 with a clear purpose: to revolutionise thought. Born under the star sign of European avant-garde, namely Futurism,Orpheu magazine resulted from the aspiration of a group of intellectuals determined to transform the mentality of their time, breaking with tradition. Provocation and subversion were watchwords. One hundred years later, one can say that the project has achieved its foundational purpose. The much dreamed of revolution in the arts and literature happened, and there are those who argue that today one is still reaping the fruits of this «pebble in the pond».
Poets Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro, José de Almada Negreiros, a figure of literature and the arts, and also artists Amadeo Souza-Cardoso and Guilherme Santa-Rita Pintor were the precursors of the intellectual movement responsible for introducing Modernism into Portugal, historically enshrined as the Orpheu Generation.
As for the choice of the name – a metaphor – they were inspired by Greek mythology. Orpheus, an accomplished poet and musician, unhappy with the death of Eurydice, his wife, in fighting to bring her back to the living world, accepted the challenge of attempting a difficult crossing without ever looking back.
That was the spirit of the magazine – to cut with the past. Europe was proudly living a period of fascination with the new age of machine. The first radio broadcasts were taking place, as well as the first air crossing of the English Channel. Then cinema, photography and television arose.
In the words of Almada Negreiros, pronounced in 1935, «what characterizedOrpheu was its Europeanism, and the way forward was to conquer the Portuguese elite», stirring the bourgeois value system.
The underlying reluctance toward this “making of waves” caused scandal. Insulting expressions such as «Literature from the asylum» and «Orpheu in the underworld» would confirm this impact, largely related to the unexpected themes of poetry that was published, extolling speed, electricity or the pursuit of the subconscious «me».
Truth is that the seeds that were sown germinated. The Orpheu – or Orphism – generation earned a place in history, effectively influencing future aesthetic currents and, in general, all arts, from literature to cinema, including music, painting and architecture.
In literature, Orphism represents the first generation of Portuguese Modernism, followed by Presencism («Presença» – magazine), with José Régio and Branquinho da Fonseca, and Neo-realism, led by Alves Redol and Carlos de Oliveira, among others.
Despite its massive repercussions, the Orpheu magazine had only two issues – one in each of the first two quarters of the year. The first was a Portuguese-Brazilian Edition, directed by Luis Montalvor and Ronald de Carvalho. The second was directed by Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá- Carneiro. A third issue, scheduled for October, was eventually cancelled due to lack of funding.
Issue Date: 20.02.2015 Designer: Atelier B2 Printer: INCM Process: Offset Colours: 4 Colours Size: 30.6x40mm Values: 0.42, 0.72