Começar [To Begin], 1968
[12,87 x 2,31 m] [42’22” x 7’57”]
incised and painted drawing on limestone
The panel Começar, commissioned by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for the foyer of its headquarters in Lisbon, was José de Almada Negreiros’ last work. The artist was given full thematic freedom and chose to engrave on limestone a synthesis of his self-taught studies on numbers and geometry, which he had passionately pursued since the early 1940s. The piece’s geometric complexity may be better understood by tracing its construction step by step, with the aid of the colour demarcation suggested by Almada. The following steps clarify the work’s successive stages by singling out and recombining its geometric elements one by one.
Explore the panel Começar [To Begin] and discover some of the geometric constructions used by Almada Negreiros in its conception. Through animations of some of the drawings, several images and a glossary, we hope to offer the users a new perspective on the piece, as well as additional information that may help them to better understand the last artistic endeavour from a unique figure of the 20th-century Portuguese culture.
The panel has been divided here in five parts, according to the piece’s identifiable visual elements.
In this first section of the panel we find three different coloured pentagrams inside a circle. There are also some very particular rectangles, drawn in blue.
Figura superflua exerrore
The large 16-pointed star – called Figura superflua exerrore – is based on an illustration by Leonardo da Vinci for Luca Pacioli’s De divina proportione.
Large central star
Here we can see a star with five crossed-over points, inspired by a coin from the times of King Afonso Henriques; we can also see three blue rectangles, similar to those in the first section.
Divisions of the circumference
In this section we can see the geometrization of a symbolic figure from ancient Greek culture, the double-axe, upon which are based several hypotheses for the division of the circumference in equal parts.
The Bauhütte point
The central figure in this section is called the Bauhütte point, a construction created by Almada himself in order to geometrically determine the point described in a quatrain from a medieval guild of cathedral builders.
Explore the panel