Popular culture in the artistic pavement of Praça do Império at the 1940 Portuguese World Exhibition
The Portuguese-style artistic sidewalk, in the continuity of a tradition that dates back to the mid-19th century, would be one of the scenic elements integrated in the great event of the 1940s, which was the Exhibition of the Portuguese World. The best pavers are called for this event, not only to elaborate the designs that Cottinelli Telmo would project for part of the pavements of this exhibition, as well as to demonstrate, within the spirit of a popular culture that took root, the distinction of paving mastery within a working class that left a mark with a certain stamp, also artistic to the taste of the regime. In this way, the Estado Novo was valuing the legacy of a past, where generations bent on placing stones on the ground, either on the roads or on sidewalks, which in this way showed again, in order to leave a “mark” of identity and political legitimation according to the iconography of the Estado Novo. Although anonymous, these artisans would come to leave a personal stamp of a popular nature among the stones. They are marks of a certain intrinsic eruditism of an art of manipulating the stone that has been perfected. In this work, we try to identify some of the signs of strategy and valorization of popular art used by the Estado Novo and which would mark and drive the development of the paving process on the Portuguese artistic sidewalk, which would have its heyday at the Portuguese World.
We also seek in this research study, to raise this theme to understand a subject that has been somewhat neglected, both in its dimension as popular culture, as an adjunct to the artistic element, the pavement in artistic sidewalk in the urban environment and also as an element of an art that expresses itself in public. In turn, we focus here on this exhibition promoted by the Estado Novo, because it is here that we find material that has not been deepened and to understand how the State itself ends up taking over a popular culture to pass its propaganda on a scale and dimension never before seen.