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Franz Weissmann, 93, sculptor

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Franz Weissmann, one of Brazil's leading sculptors and the last surviving founder of the Neoconcrete movement, died at home Monday of complications from pneumonia, relatives said. He was 93.

Born in Knittelfeld, Austria, Mr. Weissmann came to Brazil in the early 1920s and studied art at Escola das Belas Artes.

In 1948, Mr. Weissmann became a Brazilian citizen and helped found the country's first school of modern art in the southeastern city of Belo Horizonte, where his students included celebrated artists Amilcar de Castro and Mary Vieira.

In 1955, Mr. Weissmann joined the Frente Group, an art collective in Rio de Janeiro that developed and expanded on ideas of geometric abstraction proposed by the European avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s.

The Frente Group later merged with the Concrete movement. Both relied heavily on the thinking of Brazilian art critic Mario Pedroso, who said art should be constructed and geometric.

Eventually, Mr. Weissmann and other Rio de Janeiro artists such as Helio Oiticica, Lygia Clark, and Lygia Pape thought the Concrete movement was too cold and insipid, and they founded the Neoconcrete movement to inject informality into their art.

Mr. Weissmann's large metal sculptures were never based on drawings but rather on wire mock-ups. He once described his works as ''drawings in space."

Mr. Weissmann's often-puzzling geometric works were cut, welded, and bent out of giant slabs of steel and were admired for their presence, empty spaces, and the sense of absence they created.

In the 1970s, Mr. Weissmann began adding bright color to his works, which were featured in public squares across Brazil and in major museums.

One famous work, ''Mondriana," paid homage to the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, whose paintings also mixed geometric shapes and bright colors. Mr. Weissmann's homage consisted of three intersecting black metal frames containing two right-angled plates, one blue and the other yellow.

Mr. Weissmann leaves a daughter, Waltraud; and a son, Manfrid.

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