Every once in a while, an artist comes along that is so revolutionary, that he or she is considered to be one of the biggest influences on their artistic movement. Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973) is such an artist. So widely celebrated in her native country of Brazil, they still honor her art many years after her death, but unfortunately, here in America, not many have heard of her yet. But now, with her upcoming exhibit at the MoMA, which is taking through June 3, Americans will be able to experience her groundbreaking art in an up close and personal setting. 

Born in 1886, Tarsila seemed destined for a conventional life until her marriage fell apart, and she began exploring her artistic side. From there, she began traveling, meeting and studying with many prominent artists of the time including Andre Lhote, Albert Gleizes, and Fernand Leger. She became exposed to blossoming artistic movements like Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism.

Drawing on her travels and experiences, Tarsila’s painting began to take a more modern flavor, featuring abstract designs, bold colors, and geometric shapes. She incorporated themes of Sao Paulo and Paris, Sao Paulo being her home and Paris being the place where she studied art. Her paintings are mostly of people and tropical scenes. Later in life, Tarsila’s travels would expose her to plight and poverty, specifically in the Soviet Union. Her position as an activist reflected in her paintings, which incorporated more of a political theme.

The exhibition at MoMA is the eighth exhibit the museum is hosting in their celebration of Latin American artists. It will feature over 100 of her works including paintings, drawings, sketchbooks, photographs, and historical documents. The show will include brightly colored city and country-scapes, perversely proportioned nudes and cerebral abstracts.

Some notable works will include “A Negra”, a nude of a woman of seemingly Afro-Brazilian descent sitting cross-legged in front of a subdued yet colorful background. Also on display will be “Abaporu”, an abstract that is arguably Tarsila’s most important work. It features an egg-shaped disc, in an oddly intellectual pose, set against a sky blue background. The painting was gifted to Tarsila’s second husband and poet Oswaldo de Andrade. It was said that the piece of art served as inspiration for his “Manifesto of Anthropophagy”.

Tarsila is a painter whose works have been revolutionary to the world of art. Her exhibit will serve as a rare opportunity for Americans to become better acquainted with her daring creations. Tarsila’s work will be shown through June 3. Be sure to check out the art of this bold modernist before time runs out.