Amaral, Tarsila do

Amaral, Tarsila do, 1886–1973, Brazilian painter, usually known as Tarsila. She brought modern art to Brazil, mingling Brazilian themes with modernistic imagery in her paintings. After studying in Brazil, she went (1920) to Paris where she attended the Académie Julian and later studied with Fernand Léger, whose work strongly influenced hers. In the 1920s she synthesized the Brazilian and the modern in stylized nudes and landscapes, beginning with A Negra (1923), which portrays a nude Afro-Brazilian woman of flattened and monumental proportions against horizontal bands of color. Her most famous work is probably Abaporu (1928), in which a nude with a tiny head and enormous foot and hand sits on a green ground by a simple cactus, with a blazing sun in a bright blue sky. It inspired her husband, the poet Oswaldo de Andrade, to write the influential Anthropophagite Manifesto, which called for a cannibalization of European influences on Brazilian culture. Her paintings of the 1930s and 40s, e.g. Workers (1933), reflect her interest in Marxism and Socialist Realism as a result of the Great Depression. In the 1950s she returned to her Brazilian-Cubist style. Little known outside of Latin America, she is a highly influential cultural icon in Brazil.

See S. D'Alessandro and L. Pérez-Oramas, Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil (museum catalog, 2017); A. Pedrosa and F. Oliva, ed., Tarsila do Amaral: Cannibalizing Modernism (2019).

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