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She led Latin American Art in a bold new direction
In 1928, Tarsila do Amaral painted Abaporu, a landmark work of Brazilian Modernism, in which a nude figure, half-human and half-animal, looks down at his massive, swollen foot, several times the size of his head. Abaporu inspired Tarsila’s husband at the time, the poet Oswald de Andrade, to write his celebrated “Cannibal Manifesto,” which flayed Brazil’s belletrist writers and called for an embrace of local influences – in fact, for a devouring of them. The European stereotype of native Brazilians as cannibals would be reformatted as a cultural virtue. More than a social and literary reform movement, cannibalism would form the basis for a new Brazilian nationalism, in which, as de Andrade wrote, “we made Christ to be born in Bahia.”
The unconventional nudes of A Negra, a painting produced in 1923, and Abaporu unite in Tarsila’s final great painting, Antropofagia, a marriage of two figures that is also a marriage of Old World and New. The couple sit entangled, her breast drooping over his knee, their giant feet crossed one over the other, while, behind them, a banana leaf grows as large as a cactus. The sun, high above the primordial couple, is a wedge of lemon.
(Jason Farago. www.nytimes.com, 15.02.2018. Adaptado.)