• 1970
  • Pine logs
  • Inv. 96E379

Alberto Carneiro

Uma floresta para os teus sonhos [A forest for your dreams]

«We will not state that a tree is a work of art. We will only say that we can take one and transform it into a work of art.»*


Alberto Carneiro’s words clarify how Uma Floresta para os Teus Sonhos (A Forest for Your Dreams) should be understood. The artist was a global pioneer in the use of the concept of ecological art applied to artistic practice, and writing has also assumed an important role in his career, not only as a confessional vehicle or as a means of revealing his artistic intentions, but also as raw material for his visual art.** But the ecological in his work is not merely a discourse or knowledge of living beings or the physical and biological environment in which they live. Nor is it an art of the land or a geoarte, an expression which would be a limiting translation of the English term “Land Art”, but rather an art that is a communion, an integration of the land as a sensorial and founding part of humanity, as the title of thiswork in some way makes clear.


This is an installation, or, as Carneiro would say, a natural sculpture or an envelopment, which was created by the artist on his return from London, where he had undertaken post-graduate studies at Saint Martin’s School of Art (1968-70) under the direction of Anthony Caro and Phillip King. It is worth pointing out that when Carneiro arrived at this prestigious school, Hamish Fulton and Richard Long, who would become key names in the land art movement, were graduating. However, when comparing these artists, it becomes clear that Alberto Carneiro has created a language of his own and a way of being in life and art that is unique and irreducible to schools and artists.


In Carneiro, nature is not something remote and his work does not result from the desire of urban dwellers to come into direct contact with the primordial elements, seeking a mystical and religious connection, a reconnection that city life apparently prevents them from having. Rather than being a concept, nature is the starting point from which other places happen. It arises not as a representation but as presentification.


Presentification and transposition, because the natural elements are transported or transferred to the artistic space – the gallery or museum – just as they are. In other words, representation is abandoned for good: a tree trunk is not presented through a drawing or a photograph. Rather, a real tree trunk is shown in Uma Floresta para os Teus Sonhos, in which 200 tree trunks of different sizes and heights can not only be seen but also traversed and touched. It is easy to understand why, to this day, the artist still prefers the term envelopment to installation, bearing in mind that his aim is to bring about total immersion in the work, and for the work to reach observers’ bodily senses, including their sight, touch, and smell. In this “forest”, Alberto Carneiro offers us direct contact: he presents rather than represents.



Isabel Carlos

Maio de 2010


* Alberto Carneiro, Notas para Um Manifesto de Arte Ecológica, December, 1968 – February, 1972, in Alberto Carneiro, Lisbon / Porto, CAM – Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Fundação de Serralves, 1991, p. 63.

** See the 1975 work Os sete rituais estéticos sobre um feixe de vime na paisagem, which also belongs to the CAM collection.

DateJune 1996
Lagos, Centro Cultural de Lagos, 2006

Exhibition catalogue 


50 Anos de Arte Portuguesa / 50 Years of Portuguese Art
Lisbon, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, 2007
ISBN: 978-972-678-043-4

Exhibition catalogue 


Hors Catalogue - Un projet Gulbenkian à propos de sa collection
Amiens, Maison de la Culture d'Amiens, 1997
ISBN:2 903082 70 8

Exhibition catalogue 

Centro Cultural de Lagos
Curator: Leonor Nazaré
21 October to 30 December 2006
Centro Cultural de Lagos
Hors Catalogue - Un projet Gulbenkian à propos de sa collection
Curator: João Fernandes
December 1996 to February 1997
Casa da Cultura de Amiens, France

A co-production by the Casa da Cultura de Amiens and by Serviço de Belas-Artes and by CAM, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


50 Anos de Arte Portuguesa / 50 Years of Portuguese Art
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Curator: Raquel Henriques da Silva, Ana Ruivo e Ana Filipa Candeias
6 June to 9 September 2007
Central building, FCG, Level 0 and 01

Exhibition programmed by the Serviço de Belas-Artes and by the CAM, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.


Exposição Permanente do CAM / Permanent Exhibition of the CAM
Curator: Jorge Molder
18 July 2008 to 4 January 2009

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