Tarsila do Amaral (1886–1973) was a central figure at the genesis of modern art in her native Brazil, and her influence reverberates throughout 20th- and 21st-century art. Although relatively little-known outside Latin America, her work deserves to be understood and admired by a wide contemporary audience. This publication establishes her rich background in European modernism, which included associations in Paris with artists Fernand Léger and Constantin Brancusi, dealer Ambroise Vollard, and poet Blaise Cendrars.
Tarsila (as she is known affectionately in Brazil) synthesized avant-garde aesthetics with Brazilian subjects, creating stylized, exaggerated figures and landscapes inspired by her native country that were powerful emblems of the Brazilian modernist project known as Antropofagía. Featuring a selection of Tarsila’s major paintings, this important volume conveys her vital role in the emerging modern-art scene of Brazil, the community of artists and writers (including poets Oswald de Andrade and Mário de Andrade) with whom she explored and developed a Brazilian modernism, and how she was subsequently embraced as a national cultural icon. At the same time, an analysis of Tarsila’s legacy questions traditional perceptions of the 20th-century art world and asserts the significant role that Tarsila and others in Latin America had in shaping the global trajectory of modernism.