Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tarsila do Amaral

The Moon (A lua)
oil on canvas
other detail unknown
-Fair use-

"I feel myself ever more Brazilian. I want to be the painter of my country. How grateful I am for having spent all my childhood on the farm. The memories of these times have become precious for me. I want, in art, to be the little girl from Sao Bernardo, playing with straw dolls, like in the last picture I am working on…. Don’t think that this tendency is viewed negatively here. On the contrary. What they want here is that each one brings the contribution of his own country. This explains the success of the Russian ballet, Japanese graphics and black music. Paris had had enough of Parisian art." (Tarsila)

Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973), known simply as Tarsila, is considered to be one of the leading Latin American modernist artists, described as "the Brazilian painter who best achieved Brazilian aspirations for nationalistic expression in a modern style." She blended local Brazilian content with international avant-garde aesthetics.

She was a member of the "Grupo dos Cinco" (Group of Five), which was a group of five Brazilian artists who are considered the biggest influence in the modern art movement in Brazil. The other members of the "Grupo dos Cinco" are Anita Malfatti, Menotti Del Picchia, Mario de Andrade, and Oswald de Andrade.

She was born in a countryside of the state of Sao Paulo to a wealthy family of farmers and landowners who grew coffee. Despite coming from a well-to-do family, she had her family's support towards superior education: at that time, women were not encouraged to seek higher education (especially if they came from rich families and had everything they needed).

Beginning in 1916, she studied sculpture in Sao Paulo then drawing and painting. In 1920, she moved to Paris and studied at the Academie Julian and with Emile Renard. The Brazilian art world was conservative, and travel to Europe provided her with a broader education in the areas of art, culture, and society. In Paris, she was exposed to Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism while studying with Fernand Leger. European artists in general had developed a great interest in African and primitive cultures for inspiration. This led Tarsila to utilize her own country's indigenous forms while incorporating the modern styles she had studied. After returning to Brazil she visited Rio de Janeiro during Carnival and baroque mining towns during Holy Week. These trips inspired her to delve further into the characteristic aspects of Brazilian culture. She depicted Brazil’s landscapes and peoples in a way that reflected Leger’s organic approach to Cubism.