Miscellaneous » Artists » TARSILA DO AMARAL
|Full name||: Tarsila do Amaral|
|Alias||: Tarsila do Amaral|
|Animals||: The Dog|
|Husband||: Oswald de Andrade (m. 1926–1930)|
|Education||: Académie Julian|
Tarsila do Amaral, better known to the world as Tarsila, was a Brazilian artist who gave Latin American art a new direction. She was the strong woman who lived life on her own terms and conditions. Whether it was her work or her personal life — she always lunged limitations to follow her heart. Tarsilas paintings were a perfect reflection of surrealism and cubism. The vivid colors and extraordinary images she painted were manifestation of the bright Brazilian way of living and African cultures. Reflecting her times in Europe, the Soviet Union and Brazil itself, Tarsilas paintings were like a life story. Not only was Tarsila cultured and sophisticated, she was always closely associated to her Brazilian roots. A look at her biography will do well in enlightening you with this great woman’s life and the inspiration for her works. Just scroll down this write-up that details her life, childhood and timeline.
Tarsila studied sculpture starting from 1916 with Zadig and Montavani and she took lessons in drawing and painting from the studio of Peter of Alexandria in 1918. This is where she met Anita Malfatti. In 1920, she moved to Paris and studied at the Academie Julien with Emilie Renard.
Tarsila returned to Brazil in June 1922 where she met Anita Malfatti, Oswald de Andrade, Mario de Andrade, and Menotti del Picchia. The group had organized the “Week of Modern Art”, which was aided for the advancement of Brazilian modernism. They had formed the group of five or “Grupo dos Cinco”, who worked towards promoting the Brazilian culture. Tarsila had a brief visit to Paris in 1923 accompanied with her boyfriend Oswald de Andrade. While in Paris during that period, she studied with the cubist Fernand Leger. She painted his studio and called it “A Negra”. Leger was inspired with her work and called on the other students to have a look at it. “A Negra” was a connection to Tarsila’s childhood depicting black slaves who served the children and wet nurses. With this creation, Tarsila introduced modern art in Brazil. She also studied with André Lhote and Albert Gleizes, who were other great cubists.
The Pau Brasil period
The work Tarsila created during this period was the Pau Brasil work. Tarsila travelled Europe with Oswald and retuned back to Sau Paulo by the end of 1923. After returning to Brazil, she travelled around the country to explore the various cultures and traditions and during her travels, she made many illustrations and drawings. Andre wrote poetry during their travels and Tarsila illustrated these poems, which were titled “Par Brazil” and were published in 1924. Tarsila’s work involved very vivid and bright colors. She loved these colors as a child but she was taught that they were ugly and very hillbilly. However, she brought back this passion she had for colors into her work and this was a hallmark of her paintings. 'Carnival in Madurai', 'Morro da Favela', 'EFCB', 'The Papaya Tree', 'Sao Paulo', 'The Fisherman',and many more were a part of her artwork of the time
In 1926, Tarsila married Oswald and she continued to travel Europe and the Middle East with him. In 1926 itself, she held her first solo exhibition in Paris, which exhibited her paintings ‘São Paulo’ (1924), ‘A Negra’ (1923), ‘Lagoa Santa’ (1925), and ‘Morro de Favela’ (1924). The bright colors and vivid images portrayed were really appreciated. While in Paris Tarsila was exposed to surreal attitudes and during her return to Brazil she mixed the European styles with the Brazilian to create to come up with different techniques. During this period in 1928, Tarsila painted the “Abaporu” as a gift for her husband Oswald. Oswald was mighty impressed with this piece and called over his friend and writer Raul Bopp to have a look at it. The indigenous figure in the image seemed like a cannibal and hence the picture was named “The picture of “Abaporu,” which meant the man who eats human flesh. The picture of Abaporu represented the movement where the European cultures were to be swallowed to make it truly Brazilian.
Later in 1929, Tarsila painted the Antropofagia (1929), which included the cannibal figure from Abaporu along with the negro figure from “A negra,” a painting from 1923. Other paintings of this period included 'Sunset', 'The Moon', 'Postcard', 'Lake', and many more. The pictures were an amalgam of pictures, imaginary landscapes and strong colors.
Tarsila also had her first solo exhibition in 1929 at the Palace Hotel in Rio de Janerio, and another at the Salon Gloria in Sau Paulo, Brazil. This year was also when the New York Stock Exchange faced a crisis and the coffee markets had declined tremendously. Tarsilas father had lost a lot of money and his farms were mortgaged. Tarsila had to work now and was separated from Oswald. Therefore, 1930 lead to an end to Tarsila and Andrade’s marriage.
By 1931, Tarsila had a new Communist boyfriend Cesar Osorio. She travelled to various cities and historical places in the Soviet and captured the plights of the Russian People. She was arrested for being involved in Communist Party meetings and she was imprisoned for a month. In 1932, Tarsila came again to Brazil and became a part of the Sao Paolo Constitutional revolt. In the mid 30s, Tarsila ended her relationship with Cesar Osorio and teamed up with Luis Martins, who was twenty years her junior. She lived with him from the mid 30s to mid 50s, focused on social themes, and wrote arts and culture columns for Diario de São Paulo until 1952.
In 1951, Tarsila participated in the Sau Paulo Biennial, and had a special room in the seventh biennial of Sau Paulo. In 1964, she then participated in the Biennial of Venice.
Tarsila do Amaral was born in Capivari, São Paulo, Brazil, on September 1, 1886. She was born in an affluent family of coffee growers and landowners. She was a farmer’s daughter, who spent most of her life on the farm. Although girls from rich families didn’t pursue higher education, Tarsila was supported by her parents to go ahead with her education and interest in arts. She studied in St. Paul, Sion College and then in Barcelona Spain after her family moved there. During the time she attended school there, she showed an inclination towards arts by copying various images.
Tarsila was married to her first husband in 1906. He was the father of her only child. However, she didn’t share any kind of interested with him. Whether it was art, music and books, he was bereft of it. Tarsila separated from him after seven years of marriage. While she was still married, Tarsila fell in love with Oswald de Andrade. He was her partner in many of her travels. Finally, after officially separating from her first husband, she married Oswald in 1926, but separated from him in 1930. Her third husband, Luis Martins was twenty years her junior, and he eventually left her for a younger woman.
Tarsila passed away in 1973 at the age of 86 in Sau Paulo. Several back problems had confined her to a wheelchair and she began to sell her paintings, donating part of the money to an organization administered by Chico Xavier, who was a famous Brazilian psychic. She was buried in Consolação Cemetery dressed in white. Tarsila left behind more than 230 paintings, drawing, illustrations and prints. Her work was a great contribution towards modernization of Latin American art. And even the “Amaral Crater” on the planet Mercury has been named after her.