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Tarsila do Amaral


Tarsila do Amaral was born in Capivari, in the Brazilian state of SãoPaulo, on September 1, 1886. She was the daughter of José Estanislau do Amaral Filho and Lydia Dias de Aguiar, members of the rural coffee aristocracy of the state. Her childhood was spent mainly in her father’s farms, São Bernardo, located near Capivari, and Santa Teresa do Alto, in the municipality of Itupeva. She would later study at boarding schools in São Paulo and Barcelona, marrying, in 1904, André Teixeira Pinto. She had a daughter with him, Dulce, born on the São Bernardo Farm in 1906. Her engagement with painting commenced after she separated from her first husband. She studied with William Zadig from 1916, continuing her studies with Pedro Alexandrino one year later. In 1920, she settled in Paris, where she attended the Académie Julian. Back in Brazil in June 1922, four months after the Modern Art Week, she came into contact with Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Anita Malfatti and Menotti Del Picchia.The five would entitle themselves the Grupo dos Cinco [Group of Five]. At the end of the year, she returned to Paris, where she studied with André Lhote, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger, whose works she deeply absorbed. Oswald de Andrade left for Europe shortly thereafter, commencing a fruitful intellectual and romantic relationship with her.

The exhibition

Tarsila do Amaral (b. Capivari, São Paulo, 1886 - d. Sao Paulo, 1973) was a key figure in the Brazilian modernist movement, producing a powerful and innovative oeuvre that spans distinct stages: Pau-Brasil (Brazilwood); the "Anthropophagic" paintings; and her social phase. Two very important paintings that are frequently reproduced in the vast bibliography on the artist form the core of the exhibition: Paisagem com dois porquinhos / Landscape with two little pigs (1929) and Segunda Classe / Second Class (1933). As both belong to private collections, they have rarely been seen in public, so the show is a unique opportunity to savor them both together, first-hand. 
The exhibition intends to use these two paintings as the lenses through which to take a closer look at the moment of rupture and transformation that was the late 20s, early 30s. The few years that separate one work from the other were deeply transformational in Tarsila’s life and art. With the collapse of the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, she suffered serious financial setbacks caused by plummeting coffee prices on the international market, and found her family ranch seized by creditors. It was the end of the life of luxury she had always known. At the same time, she separated from her husband the poet Oswald de Andrade, with whom she had been married since 1926 and maintained a fruitful intellectual relationship. While Landscape with two little pigs is a significant example from Tarsila’s Pau-Brasil phase, Second Class is one of the most important products of her less numerous socially-minded works.

Tarsila was a leading figure in both the renewal of Brazilian artistic language, which she constantly updated with the latest developments from the European vanguards she maintained close contact with, and from which she learned a great deal, and among the first Brazilian artists to engage with the social concerns that marked the 1930s in Brazil and abroad. As Luís Martins points out: “Tarsila turned to social painting and was capturing the 'Brazilian reality' long before any other Brazilian artist, and she did so in such a direct and powerful way.” 

In addition to the two centerpieces, the show will also feature a publication full of iconographic documentation, a critical bibliography on Tarsila’s work and exhibitions, and texts by Paulo Venancio Filho, Aracy Amaral, Regina Teixeira de Barros, Juan Manuel Bonet and Jorge Schwartz.

Click here to access the exhibition's viewing room.

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