Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil

Tarsila do Amaral. Anthropophagy (Antropofagia), 1929. Oil on canvas. 49 5/8 x 55 15/16 in. (126 x 142 cm). Acervo da Fundação Jose e Paulina Nemirovsky, em comodato com a Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. © Tarsila do Amaral Licenciamentos.

NEW YORK—With Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil, The Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago will present the first exhibition in North America exclusively dedicated to the pioneering work of Tarsila do Amaral (Brazilian, 1886–1973), one of the greatest Brazilian artists of the 20th century. On view at The Museum of Modern Art from February 11 through June 3, 2018, the exhibition will focus on Do Amaral’s pivotal production from the 1920s, tracing the path of her groundbreaking contributions through approximately 130 works, including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, and photographs drawn from collections across the United States, Latin America, and Europe.

Tarsila do Amaral. Study for Composition (Lonely figure) III [Estudo de Composição (Figura só) III], 1930. Ink on paper. 8 11/16 x 13 in. (22 x 33 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of Max Perlingeiro through the Latin American and Caribbean Fund. © Tarsila do Amaral Licenciamentos.
Tarsila do Amaral (Brazilian, 1886–1973) is a foundational figure for the history of modernism in Latin America. The first exhibition in the United States exclusively devoted to the artist focuses on her pivotal production from the 1920s, from her earliest Parisian works, to the emblematic modernist paintings produced in Brazil, ending with her large-scale, socially driven works of the early 1930s. The exhibition features nearly 120 artworks, including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, photographs, and other historical documents drawn from collections across Latin America, Europe, and the United States.

Born in São Paulo at the turn of the 19th century, Tarsila―as she is affectionately known in Brazil―studied piano, sculpture, and drawing before leaving for Paris in 1920 to attend the Académie Julian. Throughout subsequent sojourns in Paris, she studied with André Lhote, Albert Gleizes, and Fernand Léger, fulfilling what she called her “military service in Cubism,” ultimately arriving at her signature painterly style of synthetic lines and sensuous volumes depicting landscapes and vernacular scenes in a rich color palette.

The exhibition follows her journeys between France and Brazil, through Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, charting her involvement with an increasingly international artistic community, and her role in the emergence of modernism in Brazil; in 1928, Tarsila painted Abaporu, which quickly spawned the Anthropophagous Manifesto, and became the banner for this transformative artistic movement that sought to digest external influences and produce an art for and of Brazil itself.


 The exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue, presenting Do Amaral’s paintings, drawings, letters, and photographs and offering a full overview of this critical period in her career. Essays by Luis Pérez-Oramas and Stephanie D’Alessandro examine the artist’s production from the 1920s and her long-lasting legacy, and are accompanied by an illustrated documentary section, a translation of critical texts, a chronology, and an extensive bibliography.
Tarsila do Amaral. Carnival in Madureira (Carnaval em Madureira), Oil on canvas. 29 15/16 x 25 in. (76 x 63.5 cm). Acervo da Fundação José e Paulina Nemirovsky, em comodato com a Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. © Tarsila do Amaral Licenciamentos.

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