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Lasar Segall
(1889 - 1957)

The artist Lasar Segall (July 21, 1891 – August 2, 1957) was a Brazilian Jewish painter, engraver and sculptor born in Lithuania. Segall's work is derived from impressionism, expressionism and modernism. His initial paintings in Brazil reflect a strong national connection and passion for his new found homeland. He portrayed the landscapes in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and portrayed the different races without tension or malintention. However, Segall remained faithful towards his Cubist nature throughout the majority of his artworks. Specifically, one of his famous artworks, entitled Banana Plantation, shows a Brazilian banana plantation, thick in density. Segall achieved balance in this painting by centering the worker's neck and head protruding from the bottom of the painting. This causes the audience to be fully focused towards the center space. This significant symmetrical balance emphasizes the human element involved in the Brazilian agricultural system. The diminished amount of slavery in Brazil during this time period, the 1920s, abolished Brazilian-Negro slaves and replaced them with an overwhelming amount of European workers coming to Brazil. This particular image portrays the engulfment of the plantations by the Europeans. Other prominent theme in Segall's work is human suffering and emigration. In another famous artwork of Segall's, entitled Ship of Emigrants, a ship dock is overcrowded and engulfed with emigrant passengers. Not only does the image portray a dark and saddening emotion, but it significantly portrays the troubled figures aboard the ship. The solemn faces and lack of expression on the passengers blatantly shows the harsh reality of emigrants and their depressing lifestyles of forced moves.

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