The Art Institute of Chicago Honors Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral

By Thomas Connors | October 6, 2017 |


The Art Institute of Chicago honors Brazilian painter Tarsila do Amaral with its latest exhibition, Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil.

Latin American art is no mystery. From the Mexican muralists to surrealist Roberto Matta, the great modernists have long had a place at the table of top international artists. But it wasn’t always easy commandeering a seat, and there are still those whose work isn’t as well known globally as it could be. Take Tarsila do Amaral. Combining a keen understanding of European modernism with a deep commitment to her own culture, this Brazilian painter produced a singular body of work, now getting its due with Tarsila do Amaral: Inventing Modern Art in Brazil, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago from Oct. 8 through Jan. 7, 2018.

Between sojourns in Paris (including a brief stint studying with Fernand Léger), trips around her native country and a 1931 visit to the Soviet Union, Tarsila (as she is commonly called) created brightly hued canvases of great formal vigor, pictures that merged the stylistic conceits of modernism with the scenes and shapes of Brazil, sometimes with a social slant. “Inventing Modern Art in Brazil is more than an overdue introduction to the artist,” suggests Katja Rivera of the museum’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. “It is a crucial opportunity to question and challenge the received canons of art and culture.” 111 S. Michigan Ave., 312.443.3600,