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March 30, 2010

Unseen Treasures

As the center of the Brazilian contemporary art market, São Paulo is usually overlooked as a city of great museums. But its two top institutions, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC), display major works rarely seen outside of the country, even in books. MASP (1578 Avda. Paulista; 55-11/3251-5644; masp.uol.com.br) is filled with 13 Renoirs, 76 Degases, a stunning Léger still life, and a charming portrait of Madame Cézanne by her husband. And except for the occasional passel of schoolkids, the museum is nearly empty. At MAC (109A Rua da Reitoria; 55-11/3091-3538; macvirtual.usp.br), the collection includes such rarities as Picasso's Figures, Kandinsky's Light Composition, and a Modigliani self-portrait done a year before his death. MAC also carries what may be the most outstanding examples of Brazilian modernism in the country.