Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil

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Tarsila do Amaral. _Estudo (Academia no. 2) (Study [Academy no. 2])_, 1923. Oil on canvas, 24 x19 11/16 in.(61 x 50 cm). Private collection, Brasília.

Tarsila do Amaral. Study (Academy No. 2). 1923

Tarsila do Amaral. Estudo (Academia no. 2) (Study [Academy no. 2]), 1923. Oil on canvas, 24 x19 11/16 in.(61 x 50 cm). Private collection, Brasília.

Luis Perez-Oramas: Tarsila was part of a small community of artists and intellectuals from Brazil who were in constant relationship with avant-garde figures in Europe. Between 1920 and 1928, Tarsila went back and forth from Sao Paulo to Paris. She was briefly trained under Cubist painters Albert Gleizes, André Lhote, and Fernand Léger. Academy No. 2 clearly reflects Léger’s influence. Leger’s paintings at the time, like this one by Tarsila, were composed of distinctly separate shapes, simplified, rounded, and almost abstract.

But strictly speaking Tarsila was never a Cubist painter like her teachers. She filtered all the avant-garde lessons of Paris into her own signature style. This painting, with its full-bodied nude, its abstract shapes combined with lush nature, and its vivid color, is the beginning of that process.

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