The gazes of Tarsiwald



The period from 1922 to 1929 corresponds to the most intense experimental phase of the work of Tarsila do Amaral and Oswald de Andrade

“Tarsila do Amaral founded the great Brazilian painting, placing us alongside the France and Spain of our days. She is carrying out the greatest work by an artist that Brazil has produced since Aleijadinho” (Oswald de Andrade).[I]

“Another movement, the anthropophagic, resulted from a painting that, on January 11, 1928, I painted as a gift to Oswald de Andrade, who, in front of that monstrous figure with colossal feet, heavily resting on the ground, called Raul Bopp to share the moment with him. your astonishment. Faced with this scenario, which they named Abaporu – anthropophagous –, they decided to create an artistic and literary movement rooted in Brazilian soil” (Tarsila do Amaral).[ii]

Oswald de Andrade and Tarsila do Amaral, or “Tarsiwald”, in the happy expression of Mário de Andrade, are today true emblems of the Modern Art Week, or Week of 22.[iii] The combination of the two names represents the fusion of bodies and minds united by fertility and the impetus of the Pau Brasil ideology and Antropofagia. They met in São Paulo, in the anthological year of 1922, when Tarsila returned to Brazil after a two-year study period in Paris.

Through the expressionist painter Anita Malfatti, Tarsila joins the “Group of Five” (Oswald and Mário de Andrade, Tarsila, Anita Malfatti and Menotti Del Picchia). It is with this “frantic couple of life”[iv] that the history of modernism in Brazil begins to be written. The following year, the pair Tarsila and Oswald meet in Paris, linking up with the most important artistic trends of the time. In addition to internships in the ateliers of André Lhote, Albert Gleizes and Fernand Léger, his friendship with Blaise Cendrars opened the door to the international avant-garde that at that time resided in the French capital: among others, Brancusi, Picasso, Cocteau and Marie Laurencin. . They also approached those writers who always showed a special interest in Latin America: Jules Supervielle, Valery Larbaud and Ramón Gómez de la Serna.[v]

There is a kind of mutual fascination for the couple who, in that moment of cultural effervescence, look at themselves, at each other, at Europe and at Brazil. This crossing of glances, that is, this reciprocal influence, would result in the most important part of the production of both, especially the one that goes from the years 1923 to 1925. Years later, Tarsila herself would recognize the fundamental importance of this stage: “[ …] I returned to Paris and the year 1923 was the most important in my artistic career”,[vi] states in 1950. In Oswald's poetry, we perceive Tarsila's visual mark, just as, in Tarsila's painting, we notice the unmistakable Oswaldian poetic presence. A kind of four-handed revolution, of rare intensity.

The numerous portraits that Tarsila made of Oswald de Andrade at that time focus mainly on his face, with the exception of a pencil sketch in which the model's body appears completely naked. Most of this production belongs to the years 1922 and 1923, when the poet and the painter were still true apprentices of modernism and when the foundational stage of the so-called Pau Brasil phase germinated between them.

If, in Brazil, caricature was a booming genre in the 1920s – especially with the production of Belmonte and Voltolino –, Oswald's unmistakable physique, as well as the rounded features of his face and the hair parted in the middle, make his body and face make an almost ideal target for caricature. Today, we can count on countless traces of Oswald de Andrade: among others, Jeroly, 1918-1919; Cataldi, 1920; Tarsila, 1924; Di Cavalcanti, 1941, Alvarus, c. 1950. In all these caricatures, the corrosive humor, satire and parody that became the instantly recognizable characteristics of his writing reappear.

In addition to the various drawings of Oswald made by Tarsila, we would like to highlight three paintings with his face. Two of them belong to annus mirabilis of 1922.

The portraits occupy most of the surface of the paper and canvas, and present us with a frontal view – in the pencil and pastel painting – and with the face slightly tilted, in the oil versions. In the three works, we have a serial element, which is the representation of Oswald in a jacket and tie, portrayed in the center of the painting, the head occupying its upper half. In all of them, the vertical direction of the bust on the canvas prevails.

Although Tarsila's production that year is vast and almost all of it dedicated to human figures, we still perceive an impressionist Tarsila, turned to a figurativism from which she would only begin to distance herself in the following year. Still in 1922, she painted the portrait of another of the avatars of Brazilian modernism: Mário de Andrade.

Illustration 1

The drawing in colored pencil and pastel (Ill. 1) on paper shows a frontal Oswald, hair parted in the middle and the vagueness of the lines indicating a certain expressionism, perhaps inspired, at that moment, in the painting of his companion Anita Malfatti. The features of the face are creased, highly contrasted, and a deep look that emerges from the dark spots that fill the space of the eyes. The light emanating from the face and background contrasts with the dark half of the painting, occupied by the jacket and tie. Modernity is already outlined in the stains and pencil strokes superimposed on the main motif, which give the appearance of the unfinished, the provisional, the outline. If the strong contrast of colors points to expressionism, it is also observed that the sketch forms a kind of trapeze behind the head; the cut of the hair, the cut of the lapel and the tie announce cubist movements. Tarsila chooses to give her face a slender contour, more elongated than in reality and than in the other portraits she drew and painted.

Illustration 2

The portrait of Mário de Andrade, from 1922, (Il. 2, Acervo Artístico-Cultural dos Palácios do Governo do Estado de São Paulo) also probably presents a slimmer version of the original face, although the elongation bears little or no resemblance. with the Modigliani she had probably met in Paris.

Illustration 3

In the first oil portrait of 1922, an Oswald is reborn with more vibrant colors, thick and contrasting brushstrokes (PI. 3, oil on canvas, 51 x 42 cm., Col. Particular). His face gains expression through a clear gaze. The green of the jacket and the blue of the background occupy a good part of the surface of the painting, contrasting with a now illuminated face. The same blue that invades a penetrating look, a hair parted in the middle also in firm shades of blue that contrast with the reddishness of the face. They are the same tones that Tarsila would use for the face of a Mário de Andrade with an intellectual expression and bearing, an almost white Mário de Andrade, very different from the amulative version of the well-known oil painting by Portinari, from 1935.[vii]

Illustration 4

The 1923 oil portrait, in my opinion the best done, shifts Oswald's gaze to the right (left of the painting) and pulls his hair back, leaving his forehead clean (il. 4, oil on canvas, 60 x 50 cm., Museum of Brazilian Art, MAB-Faap). There is a clear stylistic evolution in relation to the previous ones, and the cubist cut brings it closer to the blue portrait by Sérgio Milliet, another of the avatars of modernism, made in the same period.

Illustration 5

In this extraordinary year for Tarsilian production (it will be the year of to black (Pil. 5, oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm., Museum of Contemporary Art, MAC-USP), she also paints the famous self-portrait (Red coat). There is an accentuated Cubist outline in the three paintings (Oswald, Tarsila and Sérgio Milliet) and an application of diaphanous colors that eliminate the hardness of the Cubist line in the portrait.

Another element that softens the Cubist harshness is the fact that Tarsila does not use simultaneism, since the figures appear in their entirety, thus eliminating the breaks and dramatic juxtapositions, typical of the movement at that time. “[…] he said a sentence many times repeated by others: 'Cubism is the military service of the artist. Every artist, to be strong, must go through him'”, he recalls.[viii] Aracy Amaral ponders: “But, to what extent did Cubism serve Tarsila? Today we are much more likely to believe that more as an instrument of liberation than as a method of work”.[ix]

Just as, from 1922 and especially in 1923, Tarsila records her passionate look on canvas, Oswald reacts with reciprocity in an emblematic poem that reveals the way he saw her. The poem “atelier” was written and rewritten countless times,[X] incorporated into “Postes da Light”, one of the sections of the book Brazil, published in Paris by the publishing house Au Sans Pareil, in 1925. The well-known “Bauhaus” cover with the Brazilian flag and the internal illustrations bear the signature of the painter. None of Oswald's works dialogues with Tarsila with the intensity of this extraordinary poem:


Caipirinha dressed by Poiret
São Paulo laziness resides in your eyes
Who haven't seen Paris or Piccadilly
Nor the exclamations of men
in Seville
As you pass between earrings

National locomotives and animals
Geometrize the clear atmospheres
Congonhas bleach under the canopy
Of the processions of Minas

The greenery in klaxon blue
About the red dust

A smell of coffee
In framed silence

It is one of the most representative poems with regard to the oscillations between the national and the cosmopolitan, the rural and the urban, Europe and Brazil. He translates the Pau Brasil style not only through the ideological tensions thematized in the solution given to the problems of a dependent culture – such as the importation of European vanguards, through the poetry of Apollinaire and Cendrars, for example –, but also through the synthetic, naive and geometrizing.

The first verse (“Caipirinha dressed by Poiret”) simultaneously points in two directions, reproducing the Oswaldian dialectic of “cá e lá” (also the title of the poem in French included in “História do Brasil”, OI, P. 29). The periphery and the center, axis of the national and cosmopolitan dialectic present in Brazil, acquires concreteness in this opening verse. He immediately points to the interior of São Paulo, Tarsila's birthplace and childhood, and concomitantly to the City of Light, represented by Paul Poiret, one of the best couturiers of the time in Paris. In addition to having signed the wedding dress used at her wedding to Oswald, Poiret was also responsible for designer utilitarian objects for the home. The magnificent image of this first verse has a synthesis effect, suggested by the clothing, by the fashion code, in which the emblem of the interior of São Paulo merges and condenses in the Parisian metonymy.

At no time is Tarsila's name mentioned in the poem. On the contrary, her image is constructed periphrastically around attributes and geographies. This deliberate omission was the result of various stylistic exercises, as recorded in the manuscripts. in the manuscript ms1 (OI, P. 83), the second complete stanza is:

The healthy and beautiful artist
from my land
Of rare and perfect beauty
called DNA. Tarsila

in the manuscripts ms3, ms4 e ms6 (OI, pp. 87, 89 and 93), the name of the painter appears explicitly in the title “Atelier de/para Tarsila”.

The title adopted serves as a point of intersection between São Paulo and Paris, since Tarsila had established studios in both cities.[xi] As a workplace, the workshop frames the poem within the scope of painting and colors, defining Tarsila right in the title by her professional and artistic bias. This sense of completion of the poem by cutting the frame is revealed in the last verse, in the synesthesia of “framed silence”.

Illustration 6

Illustration 7

Colonial Brazil, underdeveloped, represented by the interior of São Paulo in the 1920s and embodied in the affectionate appellation “caipirinha”, is contrasted in the poem with the European cities frequented by the couple: Paris, London (Picadilly) and Seville. By choosing “laziness” as an attribute of the gaze, in addition to immediately recalling Tarsila’s beautiful eyes, Oswald claims the theme of idleness, which Mário de Andrade already used as a reflection in 1918 in “The divine sloth”.[xii] – leading to the well-known refrain “Oh, what a sloth!”, by Macunaima –, and much later to Oswald himself in the elaboration of the anthropophagic ideology. “The wise solar laziness”, present in the “Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil”, from 1924, reappears with force in Tarsila’s São Paulo gaze, which in turn retakes it in the suns in the form of an orange slice in the already anthropophagic phase of abaporu (Pil. 6, 1928, oil on canvas, 85 x 73 cm., MALBA, Buenos Aires) and Anthropophagy (PI. 7, 1929, oil on canvas, 126 x 142 cm., Fundação José e Paulina Nemirovsky, São Paulo), and with an intense solarized expression in the circles that reverberate in Sunset (1929). Only the first stanza refers to and exalts the figure of Tarsila. Oswald first defines her by profession, characterizing the cosmopolitan side and refined elegance in Poiret's clothing. Then it stops at the lazy São Paulo eyes

Who haven't seen Paris or Piccadilly
Nor the exclamations of men
in Seville
As you pass between earrings

Verse 3 is full of ambiguities: a first reading reveals Tarsila's look as the guy who has not seen Paris, nor Piccadilly, nor the men of Seville; an inverted reading allows us to glimpse a Tarsila who becomes the object-subject whose Brazilianness is not perceived by Paris, nor by Picadilly, nor by the men of Seville who praise her when they see her pass by.

The city of Seville is mentioned more than once in “Secretary of Lovers”, in Oswald's only poem written in Spanish, in the section before “Postes da Light”:

My thoughts towards Medina del Campo
Ahora Sevilla wraps in powdered gold
The oranges sprinkled with fruit
Like a gift to my eyes in love
Sin embargo que tarde la mia (OI, p. 71)

By the way, ms3A e ms3B (OI, Note j, P. 87) show that Oswald even considered including a verse in Spanish: “Viva usted y viva su amor!”.

The long syntax established by the free verse of the first stanza of “atelier” dynamizes the movement that culminates in the final verse, which emphasizes a kind of glorious passage by Tarsila, made victorious from Sevilla among the male salvos. The “passage between earrings” that closes the stanza in effect of close up straight to the oil Self portrait I (1924), in which Tarsila's long pendants adorn and support her head in the air.

the second stanza
National locomotives and animals
Geometrize the clear atmospheres
Congonhas bleach under the canopy
Of the processions of Minas

shifts the focus from women to the Brazilian landscape. The locomotive (as well as the later tram), one of the great emblems of international modernity, is associated with the autochthonous element, represented by the “national animals”, and with the Baroque and Christian tradition of Minas Gerais.[xiii] Modernity is made explicit not only with the presence of the machine and with geometrization, but also in the composition of the poem itself, lacking punctuation marks, in the “lapidary conciseness” alluded to by Paulo Prado in the preface of the book Brazil. “It geometrized reality”, says João Ribeiro in 1927.[xiv] This prismatic view of the interior of São Paulo opens the section “São Martinho” (name of the farm in Minas Gerais) of Brazil, in the poem “Nocturne”:

Outside the moonlight continues
And the train divides Brazil
Like a meridian (OI, p. 47)

The geometrized landscape arrives here at a moment of maximum synthesis, in which the design of the circle and the line[xv] is iconized in the intermediate verse; a meridian verse that “divides Brazil” and the poem itself in two. The title ironizes the romantic tradition and announces itself as the possibility of also being a night train.

The same formal solution occurs in the third stanza of workshop:

The greenery in klaxon blue
About the red dust

A master of synthesis, Oswald arrives at a more radical solution in this “atelier” stanza than in the “nocturne” poem, since here the verb, totally isolated, ends up becoming the verse itself and literally “cuts”, like a meridian, the stanza in half. The nationalist theme of Pau Brasil, introduced in the previous stanza by geography, architecture and Minas Gerais tradition, is complemented by highly contrasting colors: green, blue and red. In this chrome, we recognize the colors that Tarsila also introduces as part of the rhetoric of the affirmation of the national, the colors of the brazilwood tree, the first export product of the colonial era, which by definition refer to coloring properties. The purple earth in the last verse, present in many of his paintings, is a consequence of the dust raised by the car when arriving at the farm.[xvi] Still in this stanza, São Paulo reminiscences of modernism are intense through the titles of two important magazines: the synesthesia “azul klaxon” recalls the most avant-garde of modernism magazines, Horn, and the “red dust” of the last verse refers to the title of the journal Terra Roxa… and Other LandsOf 1926.[xvii]

Geometry, “national animals”, meridian cuts and other elements belonging to the Brazilian tradition are found in profusion in this stage of Tarsiliana's work. Brazilian flora and fauna appear in the bestiary naive of his painting: dog and chicken in Favela Hill (1924), parrot in Fruit seller (1925), cat and dog in The family (1925), the Urutu in The egg (1928), a frog in O sapo (1928), giant otters in Sunset (1929), monkeys stretched out on tree branches in Postcard (1929). Unlike the primitivism of customs officer Rousseau, in which the animals represent the dreamlike vertigo of surrealism, in Tarsila, the animals, although represented in a naive, have clear functions of asserting paubrasility. About the cuca (1924), the painter states: “I am making some very Brazilian paintings that have been much appreciated. Now I made one called the cuca. It is a strange animal, in the bush with a frog, an armadillo and another invented animal”.[xviii]

Many years later, she recalls the origin of this “feeling of Brazilianness” and the links with the Pau Brasil ideology: “Contact with a land full of tradition, the paintings of churches and houses in those small, essentially Brazilian cities – Ouro Preto, Sabará, São João del-Rei, Tiradentes, Mariana and others – awakened in me the feeling of Brazilianness. My canvases date from that time Favela Hill, brazilian religion and many others that fit into the Pau Brasil movement created by Oswald de Andrade”.[xx]

The sense naive, reinforced by the use of a deliberately stripped-down style, is shaped in the unidimensionality of a painting like EFCB (Estrada de Ferro Central do Brasil), in which the crisscrossed ironwork of the bridge and the railroad flags (metallic echoes of the Tour Eiffel) do not decorate the modern city, but decorate the Brazilian interior: palm trees, churches, lampposts and the famous “hovels”. of saffron and ocher” mentioned by Oswald in the “Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil”.

The last stanza tropicalizes and “Paulistanizes” the urban scene of the 1920s:

A smell of coffee
In framed silence

The enumerative synthesis fits within the limits imposed by silence: the spectator looks at the city of São Paulo as if it were a ready made silent and scented, a postcard offered to the camera eye of the tourist.[xx] The futuristic city of São Paulo is an anticipation of Niemeyer, whose “architectural genius” would be exalted by Oswald de Andrade decades later, fifteen years before the inauguration of Brasília.[xxx]

The mention of coffee goes beyond mere decorativism or the introduction of “local color” as an affirmation of the national. On the contrary, São Paulo defined in the 1920s the apogee of the coffee barony, royally installed in the mansions of Avenida Paulista. As Oswald states: “It is necessary to understand modernism with its material and fertile causes, drawn from the industrial park of São Paulo, with its class commitments in the golden-bourgeois period of the first valued coffee, in short, with its piercing watershed that it was Antropofagia in the harbingers of the Wall Street world shake-up. Modernism is a diagram of the coffee boom, the crash and the Brazilian revolution”.[xxiii]

The images of the last stanza of the poem, in which the cold geometric volumes of metal and cement oppose the warm solar sphere, are also announced in the “Manifesto da Poesia Pau Brasil”: “Obuses of elevators, cubes of skyscrapers and the wise solar laziness”. The possibility of a cold constructivism is abolished by the attribute of tropical leisure that characterizes the megalopolis of São Paulo.

From the title to the last stanza of the poem, a line extends that emerges from the studio as an interior space destined for the artist's production, passes through the rural landscape of the interior of Brazil – with an intense horizontality suggested by the “locomotives” and the “processions of Minas Gerais”. ” – and culminates in the vertical opening of skyscrapers, cut by viaducts of the geometrized city.[xxiii] The poem thus portrays this kind of rite of passage that begins in the ateliers of Léger, Lhote and Gleizes, to arrive at the open and Brazilian space of the Tarsilian chrome.

From the point of view of the pictorial theme, Carnival in Madureira (1924) is perhaps Tarsila's painting that best translates the opposition between the rural and the urban, the interior of São Paulo and Paris, the periphery and the center. The “nocturnal and sidereal Eiffel Tower” from the poem “Morro Azul” majestically reappears in the center of the favela in Rio de Janeiro. The black women, the children, the dog, the little houses, the hills, the palm tree, everything takes on a festive air. The favela's chrome surrounded by the flags that wave at the top of the tower and around the painting confirm the Oswaldian aphorism that "joy is the test of nine", presented in the "Manifesto Anthropophagy". The technological utopia crowned by the Matriarchy of Pindorama, announced years later by the anthropophagic revolution, acquires in Tarsila's canvas an emblematic and premonitory value in the form of a visual synthesis.

Illustration 8

Nor can we fail to mention the beautiful painting painted in Paris in 1923, which, prior to the composition and publication of Oswald's poem, coincidentally or not, bears the name of Caipirinha (Ill. 8, 1923, oil on canvas, 60 x 81 cm, Private Collection). In the words of Carlos Drummond de Andrade, in the poem “Brasil/Tarsila”:

I want to be in art
the caipirinha from São Bernardo
The most elegant of caipirinhas
the most sensitive of Parisians
joke play at the anthropophagic party[xxv]

With an accentuated cubist approach, the tension between the national and the cosmopolitan present in the poem is reflected in the painting by the rural motif transfigured by the aesthetics imported from Paris. A Caipirinha de Tarsila is not dressed by Poiret, but by Léger. The cylindrical shapes of the female body, combined with the angular outline of the houses, the columns of the trees, the stripes of the hands and the facade of the house on the left, as well as the green oval volumes of the leaf and possible avocados, recall the mechanics of the design legerian.

In one of her journalistic chronicles published in 1936, Tarsila recalls: “Two years later, the much-discussed artist opened an academy in Paris, on Rue Notre-Dame des Champs, and I felt happy among his students. The workroom was vast and the nude model posed on a high dais by the fire – the traditional look of all gyms. We were all sub-Léger there. We admired the master: we had to yield to his influence. From that large group of workers, the true artists would one day find their personality, the others would continue to copy”.[xxiv]

When compared with the poetic work of Oswald de Andrade, mention is made of the acute sense of social criticism present in the work of the poet from São Paulo and that would only appear in Tarsila's work in the 1930s. a tendency towards decorativism lacking in the humor or aggressiveness that characterizes Oswald's work. But there is one instance of close collaboration between the two where this does not occur. On the contrary. I'm talking about the book Brazil, in which Tarsila's illustrations have a value equivalent to that of the poems. There is a true illustration-poem dialogue that greatly enriches the book, starting from the cover with the Brazilian flag, in which the positivist motto “Ordem e Progresso” is replaced by the expression that would mark not only the title of a book, “Pau Brasil ”, but an aesthetic-ideological program that would guide the production of both until the Antropofagia phase.

Augusto de Campos defines this interaction as follows: “The book of poems, when it contained the intervention of a plastic artist, was more in the sense of an illustration of the poems. From Brazil, the book of poems by Oswald, and especially by First notebook of poetry student Oswald de Andrade, drawing and poetry interpenetrate. There is a much more precise and much more intense dialogue between these two universes. It is the very conception of the book that changes. We are already facing copies of what will constitute the object-book”.[xxv]

The ten illustrations that Tarsila made, one for each section of the book, are simple, synthetic, childish and full of humour. In them, the idea of ​​sketch inherent to the sketch of the tourist is present. The modernity of these images, which had already made their debut in feuilles de route (1924), by Blaise Cendrars, nullifies any sense of grandiloquence that could be attributed to the history of Brazil. There is an inherent humor in the small illustrations that contain a “naive” criticism, sketched in the quick stroke of the illustration, of extraordinary effectiveness. Following the drawings, we find an anti-epic version of national history, against the grain of official and unofficial historiography narrative, to give way to a foundational discourse of Brazil in which the fragmentary, the provisional, the unfinished and humor prevail. Just as Oswald parodies the chronicles of the discovery, Tarsila's drawings can be seen as a critique of painting in official Brazil, exemplified by the grandiloquent canvases of Pedro Américo or Vítor Meireles.

The last and most important stage of this joint work is the creation of Antropofagia, which cannot be dissociated from its genesis Pau Brasil. Just as Oswald's two manifestos – “Pau Brasil” (1924) and “Antropófilo” (1928) – must be analyzed together and diachronically, Tarsila's three most important paintings – to black (ill. 5, 1923), abaporu (il. 6, 1928) and Anthropophagy (PI. 7, 1929) – should be seen as a single triptych or set. to black, produced in Paris, is explosive, monumental, raw in its extraordinary beauty and anticipates the theme of Anthropophagy by at least five years. The “atelier” manuscripts show how closely Oswald was connected to this foundational painting. We found five handwritten variants for the following excerpt, which was no longer incorporated in the final version of the poem:

The emotion
of this black
like a billiard ball in the desert[xxviii]

Although the analogy with la negresse, by Constantin Brancusi – also from 1923 (ironically sculpted in white marble, it is likely that Tarsila saw it in the Romanian sculptor’s studio) –, as well as the influence of the negrista theme, which at that moment invaded the Parisian avant-garde, to black de Tarsila explodes with rare intensity from the depths of Afro-Brazilianity. From the discarded verse “Framed in a black mask” (note c, ms2A e ms2B, HI, P. 85), the African mask transposed into Cubism and enshrined as a paradigm of asymmetric primitivism emerges in a subtle way. “Barbaric and ours”, we would say with Oswald de Andrade.

The solidity of blackness is amplified through the monumentalized and cylindrical volumes of the neck, arms, legs and the disproportion of a single, gigantic breast that hangs over the foreground of the canvas. The “polished” and “glossy” head, in evident disproportion with the rest of the body, already suggests an asymmetry that recalls the sculptures of Henry Moore and that will intensify in the future. abaporu and Anthropophagy. Another of the unused variants makes explicit on the back the monumentalism of “this giant black woman” (note f, ms3A e ms3B, OI, P. 87). The swollen, sloping and exaggerated lips contrast with the smallness of an oblique look that oscillates between sensuality and impenetrable gaze. The raw power of the image also resides in the size of the surface of the painting that it occupies completely, almost overflowing with it.[xxviii]

In contrast to the rounded shapes and the brown color of the body, the background traces a cubist outline, with white, blue and black bands that cross the canvas horizontally. This contrast somehow imposes a certain perspective, relieving the picture of its own grandeur. The “desert” mentioned in Oswald’s verse (“like a billiard ball in the desert”) will serve in the next stage as a landscape of a solar tropic, in which the cactus accompanies the figure of the abaporu.[xxix] Gifted to Oswald on his 38th birthday in 1928, the painting abaporu, that is, “eater of human flesh”, in the definition of Father Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, baptizes the movement, via Raul Bopp.

The disproportion looms large in the seated and profile figure, whose leg and foot occupy most of the foreground. The miniaturized head is almost lost at the top of the screen. This time we have a solar and desert version. the brutality of to black acquires in this new version a blue sky and an intense sun installed right in the middle and at the top of the painting, separating the cactus from the primitive representation of being both Brazilian and indigenous. Deformation as a stylistic trait reveals a dreamlike aspect already close to surrealism. In this sense, Aracy Amaral radicalizes this trend, considering that “Tarsila, due to the density of her maximum production – the 1920s – [is] a surrealist artist despite herself, or without the concern to declare herself engaged in this movement” .[xxx]

The ideals of the movement launched by Oswald de Andrade with the “Anthropophagous Manifesto” (published in the Anthropophagy Journal, on May 7, 1928) would be born inspired by this painting. And, the following year, Tarsila paints Anthropophagy, third painting of the trilogy, a surprising synthesis-montage of the previous two. Two figures: the one in front, whose exposed breast in the middle of the frame refers directly to the canvas to black, and, juxtaposed, the profile figure of the abaporu, only inverted. Together, they indicate the Pau Brasil/Antropofagia synthesis present in previous works. The Brazilian sign is accentuated by the landscape in the background, in which a slice of solar orange, suspended in the air, illuminates the tropical forest, or the Matriarchy of Pindorama, highlighted by the banana leaf that rises behind the figure in the foreground.

In the prodigious year 1922 (Ulysses, The Waste Land, Trilce, Twenty poems to be read on the tram and Semana de Arte Moderna) where Oswald and Tarsila met, neither was exactly a modernist. Oswald, who came from a French Symbolist heritage, during the events of the Week of the 22nd, in February, had read fragments of his debut novel, The condemned.[xxxii]

Tarsila, in Paris, was still an apprentice at Académie Julien and returns to São Paulo in June. “The direction to take would only come after the baptism of modernism in Brazil in 1922”, records Aracy Amaral.[xxxi] The meeting of the two awakens the passion of the eyes that lead Tarsila to produce the countless features of Oswald's face and nude, in the same way that Oswald would produce the tireless “atelier” versions. The discovery of the avant-garde in Paris led them to a rediscovery of Brazil: history, culture, flora, fauna, geography, anthropology, ethnicity, religion, cuisine, sexuality. A new man, a new color, a new landscape and a new language anchored in the roots of a colonial past. From this explosive reinterpretation, the Pau Brasil ideology germinated, which would culminate at the end of the decade with Antropofagia, the most original aesthetic-ideological revolution of the Latin American vanguards of that time.

The period from 1922 to 1929 corresponds to the most intense experimental phase of Brazilian culture. Marked at the beginning by the Week of 22 and at the end by crack of the Stock Exchange and the consequent coffee crisis, those same years framed the meeting and separation of the magnificent couple.

* George Schwartz é full professor of Hispanic-American literature at USP. Author, among other books, of fervor of the vanguards (Literature Company).

Originally published by Jorge Schwartz. Fervor of the vanguards: art and literature in Latin America. Sao Paulo, Companhia das Letras.

I would like to thank Tarsila do Amaral for providing the images and Companhia das Letras for authorizing publication.

The images that we mention and reproduce refer to the picture notebook (CI), in Oswald de Andrade, incomplete work, São Paulo: Edusp/Fapesp, 2022, pgs. 1357-1396).



[I] “Pau Brasil”. The newspaper, Rio de Janeiro, pp. 1-2, 13 Jun. 1925; reproduced in Oswald de Andrade. The Dragon's Teeth (Org.: Maria Eugenia Boaventura). 2nd ed. rev. and amp. São Paulo: Globo, 2009, pp. 31-40.

[ii] “General Confession”. Journal of Letters, Rio de Janeiro, vol. 2, no. 18, Dec. 1950; reproduced in Tarsila. São Paulo: Art Editora; Circle of the Book, 1991, pp. 11-15.

[iii] “Tarsiwald – Tarsila and Oswald, to call Mário de Andrade's friend – represented, in fact, in their attitudes and in their work, the true spirit of dandy Brazilian modernism of the 20s”, states Aracy A. Amaral in Tarsila: her work and her time (1975). 3rd ed. rev. and amp. São Paulo: Editora 34; Edusp, 2003, p. 17.

[iv] Same, same, P. 118.

[v] In that same year, 1923, Tarsila paints, in Paris, to black e the caipirinha. It is said that, upon her return to Paris that year, she stated: “I am profoundly Brazilian and I will study the taste and art of our country people”. In “Tarsila do Amaral, the interesting Brazilian artist, gives us her impressions”. Correio da Manhã, Rio de Janeiro, 25 Dec. 1923; reproduced in Same, same, P. 419.

See also correspondence from the period addressed to Mário de Andrade, in Aracy Amaral (Org.). Correspondence Mário de Andrade & Tarsila do Amaral. Sao Paulo: Edusp; IEB, 2001.

[vi] “General Confession”, on. cit., P. 12.

[vii] “In October [1922, Tarsila] portrays her new friends, Mário and Oswald: wild animals in color, as in the unusual boldness of the application of paint on canvas, brushstrokes in staccato, brief, quick, nervous, pure colors juxtaposed or mixed in the same brushstroke, Tarsila here 'draws' with paint”, says Aracy Amaral in Tarsila: her work and her time, on. cit., P. 69.

[viii] Tarsila do Amaral. “General Confession”, on. cit., P. 13.

[ix] Em Tarsila do Amaral. São Paulo: Fundação Finambrás, 1998, p. 15.

[X] Oswald left very few manuscripts of his poetry; exceptionally, there are eight manuscript versions of the poem “atelier”. For a detailed study of the variants of the various manuscripts, cf. Genesis Andrade. “Philological Note: Poetry”, OI, pp. xxxvii-xc. See also Maria Eugenia Boaventura. “The Atelier of Tarsilwald”. In: I Textual Criticism Meeting: the modern manuscript and editions. São Paulo: FFLCH-USP, 1986, pp. 27-40.

[xi] The word “atelier”, pure Gallicism, could point more to Paris than to São Paulo, although one of the handwritten versions contains the variant “Atelier paulista”. Oswald, who made the spellings so oral, kept, in the variants of all manuscripts of the poem, the French original intact, avoiding the Brazilianized form “atelier”.

At the opening of her important statement from 1950, Tarsila recalls the role of the São Paulo studio: “The entire modernist group, including Graça Aranha, would converge later on, in 1922, three months after the Modern Art Week, in this studio on Vitória Street. The Grupo dos Cinco was formed there, with Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Menotti Del Picchia, Anita Malfatti and myself. We seemed like crazy people racing everywhere in Oswald's Cadillac, in delirious joy, conquering the world in order to renew it. It was 'Paulicéia frantic' in action”. In “General Confession”, on. cit., P. 11.

[xii] The Gazette, São Paulo, 3 Sept. 1918; reproduced in Marta Rossetti Batista; Telê Porto Ancona Lopez; Yone Soares de Lima (Org.). Brazil: 1o modernist time – 1917/29. Documentation. São Paulo: IEB, 1972, pp. 181-183.

[xiii] The two oils in which the theme of the locomotive appears most represented in Tarsila's painting are EFCB, by 1924, and The train stationOf 1925.

[xiv] In "Poetry student's first notebook. São Paulo, 1927”. Newspapers in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, 24 Aug. 1927; reproduced in Criticism. You websites. Rio de Janeiro: Academia Brasileira de Letras, 1952, pp. 90-94. apud Harold Campos. “A Poetics of Radicality”. In: Oswald de Andrade. collected poems. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2017, p. 246.

[xv] Precious elements for the cubist and constructivist avant-garde. Let's remember Cercle et Carré, founded in Paris by Torres García and Michel Seuphor in 1930.

[xvi] Although when reading this stanza it is not clear that the red dust is the effect of a passing car, this is undoubtedly made explicit in the various manuscripts left by Oswald: “When we arrive from Ford tired of the red dust” (ms3), “When we arrive in a Ford/ From the red dust” (ms4, notes “h” and “i”, pg. 89), and “When we come from Ford” (ms6A e ms6F). Cf. OI, note "e”, pg. 93.

[xvii] One of its directors, António de Alcântara Machado, three years later, would direct the anthological Anthropophagy Journal.

[xviii] Letter from Tarsila to Dulce (her daughter), São Paulo, 23 Feb. 1924. apud Aracy A. Amaral. Tarsila: her work and her time, on. cit., P. 146.

[xx] “General Confession”, on. cit., P. 13. In no fewer than four of the “atelier” manuscripts (ms1, ms2, ms3 e ms4, Note c, OI, pp. 83, 85, 87, 89), we find the verse “Morro da Favela”, identical to the title of Tarsila’s 1924 painting, and in three of them it is the verse that opens the poem.

[xx] See the item “Gold key and camera eye”, by Haroldo de Campos. “A Poetics of Radicality”. In: Oswald de Andrade. collected poems, on. cit., pp. 247-249.

[xxx] “The path taken”, a conference held in Belo Horizonte in 1944; reproduced in Oswald de Andrade. Spearhead (1945). São Paulo: Globo, 2004, pp. 162-175.

[xxiii] Same, same, P. 165.

[xxiii] Analyzing Tarsila's painting, but without dwelling on Oswald's poem, Carlos Zílio observes that: “In modernism, the interior-exterior relationship loses meaning, since there is continuity between the workshop and the outside. This lack of division allows the painting to absorb tropical light and space. The inversion of outdoor painting, that is, the fact that it is the landscape that goes to the workshop, also demonstrates the contemporary stance of modernism, for whom the landscape exists as a metaphorical possibility of a cultural vision transposed into pictorial terms”. In Brazil's quarrel. The question of the identity of Brazilian art: the work of Tarsila, Di Cavalcanti and Portinari/1922-1945. 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro: Relume-Dumara, 1997, p. 78.

[xxv] Poem possibly written on the occasion of Tarsila's death. In The impurities of white. Complete poetry. Rio de Janeiro: Nova Aguilar, 2004, pp. 764-765.

[xxiv] “Fernand Leger”. Diary of São Paulo, 2 Apr. 1936; reproduced in Aracy Amaral. Tarsila chronicler. São Paulo: Edusp, 2001, pp. 52-53. For the complete edition of Tarsila's chronicles, cf. Laura Taddei Brandini (Org.). Chronicles and other writings by Tarsila do Amaral. Campinas: Editora da Unicamp, 2008.

[xxv] Em Miramar de Andrade. São Paulo: TV2 Cultura, 1990 (video).

[xxviii] When relating the various variants, Maria Eugenia Boaventura rightly points out that “the poet was certainly still under the effect of the impression that the pre-anthropophagic painting had caused him. to black”. Cf. “The Atelier of Tarsilwald”, on. cit., P. 33.

[xxviii] For another analysis of this painting, see Sonia Salztein. "The audacity of Tarsila". In: XXIV Bienal de São Paulo: historical core. Anthropophagy and stories of cannibalism. São Paulo: Fundação Bienal, 1998, pp. 356-363. The critic focuses on Tarsila's forerunner and anticipatory character in Pau Brasil and Antropofágico ideas.

[xxix] The cactus seems to be a theme par excellence for painters such as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. See, Davi Arrigucci Jr. “Compared Cacti”. In: The cactus and the ruins: poetry among other arts. São Paulo: Two Cities, 1997, pp. 21-76.

[xxx] “Tarsila do Amaral”. In: Tarsila do Amaral. São Paulo: Fundação Finambrás, 1998, p. 23. Still on Cubism in Tarsila, Haroldo de Campos, on the occasion of Tarsila's retrospective in 1969, states that “From Cubism Tarsila was able to extract this lesson not from things, but from relationships, which allowed her to make a structural reading of Brazilian visuality. ”. “Tarsila: a structural painting”. In: Tarsila: 50 years of painting. Rio de Janeiro: MAM-RJ, 1969, p. 35 (exhibition catalog curated by Aracy Amaral, inaugurated on April 10, 1969); reproduced in Aracy A. Amaral. Tarsila: her work and her time, on. cit., P. 463.

[xxxii] The Exile Trilogy. I. The Condemned. São Paulo: Monteiro Lobato and Cia. Ed., 1922.

Raul Bopp registers precisely this still romantic stage: “Oswald de Andrade, […] of romantic residues, read, amid boos, excerpts from his unpublished novel The condemned”. See Raul Bopp. Life and Death of Anthropophagy. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization, 1977, p. 27; 2nd ed. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio Editora, 2008, p. 41.

[xxxi] Aracy A. Amaral. Tarsila: her work and her time, on. cit., note 19, p. 51.

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