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mai 16, 2018
Creative Industries

Work of Brazilian modernist Tarsila do Amaral honored in MoMA exhibition

For the very first time, an exhibition devoted exclusively to the work of iconic Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral will be held in the United States. “Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil” opened on February 11 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City, and is set to run through until June 3. The exhibition will be a retrospective of Tarsila’s entire collection of works, comprising over 100 pieces, including paintings, sketches, photographs and documents. 
Tarsila’s most famous paintings will be on show to MoMA visitors, including Abaporu, A Negra (The Black Woman) and Anthropophagy, while the collection of her sketchbooks on display allow for an interesting insight into her creative processes.
Born in 1886 to a family of wealthy plantation owners in the interior of São Paulo State, Tarsila began painting in the 1910s, before leaving Brazil in 1920, at the age of 34, to study at the renowned Académie Julian, in Paris.There, Tarsila served what she called her “military service to cubism”, alongside artists such as André Lhote, Albert Gleizes, and Fernand Léger. It was on her frequent returns to São Paulo that Tarsila helped to shape modernism in Brazil, spanning the artistic scenes of both São Paulo and Paris. 
Alongside painters and writers Anita Malfatti, Menotti del Picchia, Oswald de Andrade and Mário de Andrade (who were involved in the pioneering Modern Art Week festival in 1922), Tarsila formed the Grupo dos Cinco ("Group of Five"), who went on to produce a number of manifestos and ideas to define Brazilian modernism and influence future generations.
One such movement was the Anthropophagic Manifesto, published in 1928 by Oswald de Andrade, Tarsila’s husband, and inspired by one of Tarsila’s paintings, Abaporu, which is on display at MoMA. The manifesto, often translated as the "Cannibalist Manifesto", speaks of Brazil’s history of “cannibalizing” other cultures as being one of the country's best qualities, and advocates for this cannibalization to be a guiding principle of Brazilian modernism. International cultures and movements were to be “eaten” by Brazil, before being regurgitated into new, modern Brazilian styles.
The manifesto’s most famous line – "Tupi or not Tupi, that is the question” – is simultaneously an example of "eating” Shakespeare, and a reference to the native Tupi people of Brazil, who often practiced rituals of cannibalism, believing that by devouring your enemy, you absorb their powers and qualities.