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Emiliano Di Cavalcanti

(1897 - 1976)

Brazilian painter, draughtsman, and writer, born in Rio de Janeiro, a pioneer of modern art in his country. He trained for a career in law, but turned seriously to art after a successful exhibition of his caricatures in São Paulo in 1917. In 1922 he helped to organize the Semana de Arte Moderna in São Paulo, which is regarded as a turning-point in Brazilian culture; it included dance spectacles, poetry readings, and an art exhibition. From 1923 to 1925 he was based in Paris as a correspondent for the newspaper Correio de Manha; during this time he got to know many leading avant-garde artists, including Braque, Cocteau, Léger, Matisse, and Picasso, and he travelled widely in Europe. He returned to Europe in 1938–40. His work draws on a wide range of influences, including Cubism, Fauvism and Picasso's Neoclassicism of the 1920s, which he blended into an extravagantly colourful style, well suited to the high-keyed Brazilian subjects he favoured: sensuous mulatto women, carnival and festival scenes, poor fishermen, and prostitutes were among his favourite themes. His cheerful, conservative brand of modernism and his preference for local subjects won him great popularity in Brazil. He published two volumes of memoirs (1955 and 1964).

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