Arthur Bispo do Rosário (1909 – 1989) is considered to be one of the greatest Brazilian artists. He produced all of his work during a period of around 50 year of confinement at the Psychiatric Colony Juliano Moreira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, under a diagnosis of schizophrenia paranoia.His work reflects a dialogue established between art and madness, and his character fits withinthedebate on eugenic thinking, prejudice and the boundaries between art and insanity at least in Brazil. His life historyisalso bind to the history of Brazilian psychiatric asylums, such as the Psychiatric Colony Juliano Moreira, founded in Rio de Janeiro, in the first half of the twentieth century, which had the main purpose of taking away from the streets those classified as abnormal or undesirable (the black, thepoor, the alcoholics, and any person with a deviant behaviour.)
At one point, at the psychiatric asylum, Artur Bispo do Rosário began to produce objects with different types of materials, mainly trash and scrap,that were classified as avant-garde art and suprisingly compared to the work of Marcel Duchamp when they were discovered in the early 80’s.He filled a labyrinth of cells at the psychiatric asylum withhundreds of objects and miniatures, assemblages and embroidery, canopies and banners out of junk and scraps. Author of his own particular vocabulary, in the dark interior of the colony he reinvented shoes, cups, hammers, corks, pencils, soap dishes, watches and combs in an endless list that he tirelessly made longer. He was anxious to catalogue everything he could before the great day of accounting before God. He never considered himself an artist, but an enlightened being, son of the Virgin Mary, who had been assigned to save part of the real world and its souls. Bispo stayed the course in his odyssey as creator of a unique oeuvre until July 5, 1989, when he died at the age of 78, of a heart attack and arteriosclerosis.
In 1995, he was featured at the the 46th Venice Biennale, and part of the Psychiatric Colony Juliano Moreira has been transformed in a museum carrying his name.