The Easel

Discovering the Brilliance of Hélio Oiticica

With Brazil under military rule, Oiticica decamped to New York. The career-defining installation pieces he produced were designed to transform the viewer “from a spectator into an active participant.” They are strange, influenced by the 1970’s drug scene plus the culture of Rio’s favelas. His work “anticipates subsequent generations of installation artists, none of whom can beat it for immersive and bracing cogency.”