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Avant-Garde Modern Art (focusing on painting) Paris was the global capital of Modern Art between 1850-1940. A Very Brief Introduction. Francisco Laso (Peru), Dweller in the Cordillera , 1855 Tarsila do Amaral (Brazil), Abaporu, 1928. Academic versus Avant-Garde painting.

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Avant-Garde Modern Art (focusing on painting)Paris was the global capital of Modern Art between 1850-1940

A Very Brief Introduction

francisco laso peru dweller in the cordillera 1855 tarsila do amaral brazil abaporu 1928
Francisco Laso (Peru), Dweller in the Cordillera, 1855Tarsila doAmaral (Brazil),Abaporu, 1928

Academic versus Avant-Garde painting.

Why do these paintings look different?

claude monet impression sunrise 1873 claude lorraine landscape with apollo and mercury 1645
Claude Monet, Impression (Sunrise), 1873Claude Lorraine, Landscape with Apollo and Mercury, 1645

Modern revolution in formal language of painting

Georges Seurat, ASunday Afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte, 1884-86, o/c6’’9” x 10’ Art Institute of Chicago. Pointillism

Increasing abstraction of modern painting / subject matter is modern life

Paul Signac, The Gulf of Sainte Tropez, 1892 - Pointillismcompare Henri Matisse, Luxe, Calme, et Volupté, 1904 early Fauvism

From Pointillism to Fauvism – increasing freedom from mimetic illusionism

Henri Matisse, Woman with a Hat (Madame Matisse), 1904-5(right) Matisse, The Green Stripe (Madame Matisse), 1905

Fauvism – arbitrary color, gestural and obvious brush stroke –

Rules of Western painting are broken in favor of direct expression

(left) Henri Matisse, Joy of Life, 1905-06 - Fauvism(right) Pablo Picasso, LesDemoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 - Proto Cubism

Modern art was transformed by the influence of non-Western art. In the early 20th century the primary source was African tribal sculpture “It is as if someone had drunk kerosene to spit fire."


(right) Picasso, Reservoir at Horta, summer 1909, with photograph of the Spanish town by the artist . Development of Cubism – arbitrary light and architectonic space that ignores the rules of scientific linear perspective.



High Analytic Cubism

(left) Picasso, Ma Jolie (Woman with a Guitar), 1911(right) Braque, The Portuguese (The Emigrant), 1911


Luigi Russolo, Dynamism of an Automobile, 1912-1913, oil on canvas, 106 x 140 cm (right) Boccioni, Dynamism of a Soccer Player, 1913


Joaquín Clausell (Mexican, 1866 - 1935), La ola roja (The Red Wave), ca. 1910, oil on canvas, 100 X 150 cm. Mexican Impressionism / Post-Impressionism. Influence of European modern art.José Maria Velasco (Mexican academic landscape painter), Valley of Mexico from the Hill of Santa Isabel, 1877, o/c, 5’3”x7’6”

Clausell traveled to Europe in 1892-3 (including Paris) during Mexico’s Porfiriato (1876-1911). Influenced by French Impressionism and French Impressionists Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro (from St. Thomas).


(left) Joaquín Clausell (Mexican, 1866 - 1935), La ola roja (The Red Wave), ca. 1910, oil on canvas, 100 X 150 cm. Mexican Impressionism / Post-Impressionism.(right) Claude Monet, (French Impressionist) Rock Arch West of Etretat (The Manneport) 1883, oil on canvas, 65.4 x 81.3 cm (25 3/4 x 32 in); Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York


Dr. Alt (Gerardo Murillo, Mexican 1865-1964), The Volcanos, 1950, oil on masonite, 54 X 102 inches.According to Orozco, Dr. Alt came back from his first trip to Europe in 1904 with “the rainbow of the impressionists in his hands and . . . All the audacities of the Parisian School,” and he conveyed his enthusiasm to his Mexican colleagues with enthusiasm.


Dr. Alt (Gerardo Murillo, Mexican 1865-1964), The Volcanos, 1950, oil on masonite, 54 X 102 inches. José Maria Velasco (Mexican academic landscape painter), Valley of Mexico from the Hill of Santa Isabel, 1877, o/c, 5’3”x7’6”

Which painting shows the influence of Avant-Garde Western Modernism?


Gerardo Murillo (Dr. Alt),The Paricutin Volcano Erupting, 1943, oil on canvas, 50 X 31in. Photograph below is of the 1943 eruption of Paricutin, Michoacán, Mexico


(left) Tarsila do Amaral (Brazil, 1886-1973), Self-Portrait, oil on paper, 15 in. H, 1924(right) Amaral, Portrait of Oswald de Andrade, 1922.


Tarsila do Amaral, Self Portrait, oil on canvas, 30 in. H. 1920(?)Amaral studied in Paris 1920- June 1922and December 1922 to December 1923Avant-garde modern art and rejection of academic art

Post-Impressionist style – the brushstroke is obvious and gestural, an

impression is captured rather than strict mimetic illusionism, but the palette

is “local” (realistic) and the figure is foreshortened and shaded to give a

traditional illusion of three dimensionality.


(left) Anita Malfatti (Brazilian, 1889-1964), La Boba, 1915. Amaral’s correspondant in Sâo Paulo,Malfatti was in Germany between 1910-1915. Malfatti’s 1917 exhibition in Sao Paulo, provoked hostility and scandal.(right) Ernst Kirchner (German Expressionist) Self-Portrait as Soldier, 1916

anita malfatti the yellow man 1915 16 charcoal and pastel on paper 61 x 45 5 cm sao paulo brazil
Anita Malfatti, The Yellow Man, 1915-16, charcoal and pastel on paper, 61 X 45.5 cm, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Cover of catalog from art exhibition from the Semana de Arte Moderna (Week of Modern Art), an arts festival in São Paulo, Brazil, from February 11 to February 18, 1922 organized by Mário de Andrade and the Group of Five. The illustration is by Emiliano di Cavalcanti.

“I am deeply Brazilian and I am going to study the taste and the art of our country people. I hope to learn with those who have not been corrupted by the academies. To be a Brazilian artist is not to paint only Brazilian landscapes and farmhands.”

- Tarsila do Amaral, 1923 (Paris)


(right) Amaral, Black Woman, 1923, oil, (painted in Paris), Museum of Contemporary Art, U of Sâo Paulo. Compare with 1920 self portrait (center) (left) Constantin Brancusi (Romanian) Blonde Negress, 1926School of Paris Primitivism

paul gauguin self portrait ceramic mug c 1890 with moche portrait ceramic vessel c 700 ce peru
Paul Gauguin, Self-portrait, ceramic mug, c.1890 with Moche portrait ceramic vessel, c.700 CE, Peru.

Gauguin, part indigenous Peruvian, is considered the Father of Primitivism

in Western art in the late 19th century school of Paris avant-garde


(left) Amaral, Abaporu (“Man who eats” in Tupi-Guarani),1928, oil, 33 ½ in H Inspired Andrade’s “Anthropophagite Manifesto”: cannibalism as a metaphor for Brazil’s transformation of European culture(right) Albert Gleizes (French “academic” Cubist 1881-1953), Stravinsky, 1919.


(left) Amaral, An Angler, mid-1920’s, the Hermitage(right) Carnival in Madureira, 1924, oil on canvas, 30 in. HTravels with French poet, Blaise Cendrars and Oswald de Andrade, 1924Palette signifies “Brazil” versus “Europe”

“…colors I had adored as a child. I was later taught they were ugly and unsophisticated.”


Amaral, Central Railway of Brazil, 1924, oil, 56 in. H, Sâo Paulocompare Fernand Léger (French Cubist, 1881-1955) The City, 1919Embrace of modernity? Colonial Cubism?“Cubism is the military service of the artist. To be strong, every artist should go through it” - Amaral

Poetry exists in facts. The shacks of saffron and ochre among the greens of the hillside favelas, under cabraline blue, are aesthetic facts.

We have a dual heritage – the jungle and the school. Our credulous mestizo race, then geometry, algebra and chemistry after the baby's bottle and herbal tea.

Oswald de Andrade

Pau-Brazil Poetry manifesto 1924,


(left) Amaral, Urutu (a poisonous snake) 1928, oil, 24 in. H, private collection, Río de Janeiro. (right) Giorgio de Chirico, Italian Metaphysical School (proto-Surrealism) The Great Metaphysician, c. 1913

Influence of Surrealism and current Brazilian notion of the country as a great snake


Amaral, Antropofagia, 1929, oil, 50 in. H“No one has penetrated as well as she did the wildness of our land, the barbarian which is each one of us, the true Brazilians who are eating with all possible ferocity the old culture of importation, the old unusable art, all the prejudices,” Oswald de Andrade for Amaral’s first exhibition in Brazil 1929.

Armando Reverón, Self Portrait with Dolls, c. 1949, charcoal, chalk, crayon, and pastel on paper on cardboard, 35 X 32 inches

(left) Armando Reverón (Venezuela, 1889-1954), The Cave, 1919, oil on canvas, 40 X 61 inches, Caracas, Venezuela, Private collection. Reverón returned from Paris in 1915 having rejected his fine art training in Caracas.(right) FranciscoGoya (Spanish painter and printmaker, 1746-1848) Naked Maja, 1800; and August Renoir (French Impressionist), 1917


Armando Reverón, (left) Landscape and Shack, 1924(right) En Venta, c. 1940. The landscape of sea coast Macuto, Venezuela, where Reverónmoved in 1921. Small impressionist paintings done out of doors


Diego Rivera (Mexican, 1886 -1957), House over the Bridge, 1909, painted in Spain. The artist is 23 years old. Is this a Modernist painting?


(left) Diego Rivera, At the Fountain near Toledo, 1913, oil on canvas, 25.5 X 31.5 in. (top right) Piet Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944), Still Life with Ginger Jar, 1912. Mondrian was Rivera’s neighbor in Paris.(below right), Paul Cézanne (French Post-Impressionist, 1839-1906), 1885

Costumbrista, Symbolism, Cézanne, Cubism


Amedeo Modigliani (Italian in Paris from 1906, 1884-1920), Diego Rivera, c. 1908. (right) Modigliani, Portrait of the Jean Cocteau. 1916, Oil on canvas. 100 x 81 cm.

Modigliani and Rivera were close friends in the Montmartre bohemian circle.


(left) Diego Rivera, Woman at the Well, 1913

(right) Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973), Girl with a Mandolin, 1910

Pre-Analytic Cubism

left diego rivera the architect 1914 right pablo picasso three musicians 1921
(left) Diego Rivera, The Architect, 1914(right) Pablo Picasso, Three Musicians, 1921

Synthetic Cubism


Diego Rivera, Angeline and the Infant Diego, 1916. Rivera met Russian avant-garde artist Angeline Beloff in Europe and stayed with her from 1911-1921 when he returned to Mexico without her. Angeline Beloff gave birth to a son, Diego, who died before he was two years old.


General Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915)Left: 1867, during Mexico’s fight against French interventionRight: 1908 President of Mexico (from 1876 to 1880 and from 1884 to 1911)

mexican revolution 1910 1920
Mexican Revolution 1910-1920

José Vasconcelos

Secretary of Education

under Obregón

Álvaro Obregón, President

of Mexico, 1920–25

Emiliano Zapata (1887-1919)

Pancho Villa (1877-1923)


Diego Rivera, Zapatista Landscape – The Guerilla, 1915

Painted in Paris – Mexican subject and Synthetic Cubist style


Pedro Figari (Uruguay, 1861-1938), On the Patio, after 1921, oil on cardboard, 60 X 80 cm. Moved to Buenos Aires in 1921, at 60 years of age, and began to paint full time. Worked in Paris after 1925; returned to Montevideo in 1932

“My conviction has been to elevate our culture and make us love the American things that are so very much ours.” - Figari


(right) Édouard Vuillard (French Post-Impressionist and Nabi painter, 1868-1940), Mother and Sister of the Artist. c. 1893. Oil on canvas. 18 1/4 x 22 1/4" (left) PedroFigari, On the Patio, n.d., oil on cardboard, 60 X 80 cm

Figari had studied in Italy and France in his youth. Returned to France in 1925 where he continued to paint scenes of mid- to late 19th century Uruguay from memory, giving us a world that was vanishing.


Figaro, African Nostalgia, 1921-32, oil on cardboard, 80 x 60 cm, the candombe, the African (hybrid Bantu)-Uruguayan celebration on Sundays and Christian festival days. Today only the musical gatherings continue.


Candombe paintings by Pedro Figari, 1932 ( he was 71 years old), painted from childhood memories of mid-nineteenth century candombe gatherings of the 1860s and ’70s. (Slavery was abolished in Uruguay in 1846.) The memory is of the “tango” houses, off-limits to the general public in Montevideo of the time. Celebrations were accompanied by the sound of the Tambor. In Africa, Tambor and the person playing it are defined by the same word, Tambor.


“I have always lived on the margins of written poetry, like the most mystical of the uncouth, and I feel human: I laugh, cry, suffer, moved, I tremble and am utterly startled, and submit mad like a lover to my dreams. As I approach the end, without knowing why, suddenly I feel the irresistible desire to display my dreams, believing them to be good, and if they hold some human essence they are good, and I hope they live, they are my guide.” - Pedro Figari, Paris 1927


Pedro Figari, The Bell for Prayer, n.d., oil on cardboard, 27 X 38 inches, Montevideo “a vanished or vanishing world” Contrasted white Creole world with African and mixed.

“Figari is the pure temptation of his memory.These immemorial features of Creole life - the mahogany tree that seems a constant bonfire of freshness, the ombú worthy of triple devotion for giving shade, being recognized from afar, and being the shepherd of the birds, the delicate wrought-iron screen door, the patio, place of serenity, rose of the days, the surprise gust of south wind which leaves a thistle flower in the doorway -are family relics now. They are creatures of memory, even if they still exist. And we know that memory's method is lyric. Figari's work is lyric.”

Jorge Luis Borges, 'Figari‘

Buenos Aires Editorial, 1930

Pedro Figari, Horses, n.d., oil on board, 62x82 cm.

The open pampas with ombu tree


Emilio Pettoruti (Argentina 1892-1970)Argentine Avant-Garde was launched in 1924 with the founding in Buenos Aires of Martin Fierro, a cosmopolitan artist magazine and a controversial exhibition of paintings by Emilio Pettoruti later the same year. Martin Fierro’s manifesto – “…we are in the presence of a NEW SENSIBILITY and of a NEW COMPREHENSION” and “new means and forms of expression.” (caps in original)

Luigi Russolo, Dynamism of an

Automobile, 1913, oil,

Italian Futurism

Emilio Pettoruti,Dynamism, graphite,

1915, Argentine Futurism


(left) Emilio Pettoruti,Harlequin, 1925, oil on canvas, 27 in H(lower right) Pettoruti, The Quintet, 1927compare (top center) Picasso, Three Musicians, 1921, Synthetic Cubism

Plays a bandoneon, an accordion-like

Instrument used in tango ensembles.

Pettoruti, (right)Blue Grotto of Capri, 1918, oil, 34 x 24 inCubism (left)Pettoruti, Three Cigarettes, 1934

“Only Modern art speaks to us from up close. Only Modern art moves and arouses us, saying lively things, things that are our own, things that show us the way to tomorrow.” - Pettoruti, “The Situation of the Modern Artist,” 1968


Xul Solar (Oscar Agustín Alejandro Schulz Solari, Argentina, 1888-1963) “I am maestro of a writing no one reads yet” and “I am world champion of a game no one knows.”[an invented American language (Neocriollo), a universal language that he called Panlengua, and a game (panjuego) based on chess]

Student of Theosophy, the Cabala, astrology, and pre-Columbian

Mythology, Solar practiced meditation to experience mystical exaltation.

Xul Solar contributed writings in Pan Crillo to Martin Fierro and like to speak in Pan Criollo:“Olas, ólitas, vintos, hálitos, réspiras, kinflores, hondónadas, pirmanchas, kingramas, biovacíos, tunzoes: too fon.”[“Waves, wavies, wine-reds, breath-rests, kinflowers, profundiads, firestains, kingrams, biovoids, tongtoes: Too fun.”]

Xul Solar, Pareja (Couple), 1923, watercolor on paper, 10 x 13 in.Compare (right) Paul Klee, Swiss modernist, Hammamet with Mosque, 1914 “Xul took on the task of reforming the universe, of proposing on this earth a different order. For that, among other things, he changed the current numerical system of mathematics to use a duodecimal system, with which he painted his watercolors.” Jorge Luis Borges


Xul Solar, Jefa [Priestess], 1923The whiskered woman suggests the feline cult of the Egyptian godess Isis of life to death and rebirth of the god Osiris

left xul solar drago 1927 right joan miro spanish modernist school of paris harlequin carnival 1924
(left) Xul Solar, Drago, 1927(right) Joan Miro, Spanish modernist, School of Paris, Harlequin Carnival, 1924

Joaquín Torres-García (Uruguayan painter and sculptor, 1874-1949)Returned to Montevideo in 1934 after a 43-year absence in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, and New York.

“Constructive Universalism” and Abstraction

“I have said School of the South: because, in fact, our North looks South. For us there must not be a North, except in opposition to the South… This correction was necessary; because of it we know where we are.”Joaquín Torres-García, 1943 drawing, Cover Page Map of School of the South, Montevideo, El Taller Torres-Garcia, 1958

(left) Joaquín Torres-García, Composition, 1932, oil on canvas, 28 x 20" (right) Piet Mondrian, Still Life with Ginger Jar, 1912(lower right) MondrianTableau, 1921 (Neoplasticism)Torres-Garcia met Mondrian in Paris in 1929. New use of the grid with pictographs would be the basis of his constructive universalism.


Universal Constructivism of Torres-Garcia was influenced by Andean pre-Hispanic regions where art was often based on geometric patterns. Compare Inca woven tunic (left), c. 1476-1534 with Torres-Garcia, Composition, 1932 (right)


(right)Joaquín Torres-García, Constructive Painting with Curved Forms, wood, nails, paint, 1931(right) Vladimir Tatlin (Russian Constructivist, 1885-1953), Painterly Relief, 1914

torres garc a constructivist painting no 8 1938 gouache on paperboard 31 5 8 in x 19 1 2 in sfmoma
Torres-García, Constructivist Painting No. 8, 1938, gouache on paperboard, 31 5/8 in. x 19 1/2 in. SFMOMA

Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Cosmic Monument, 1938, pink granite, Parque Jose Enrique Rodo, Montevideo. A plaque on the ground nearby has incised on it the cardinal points reversed, so “sur” (south) appears at the top and “norte” (north) at the bottom


Joaquin Torres-Garcia, Cosmic Monument, 1938, made of separate blocks. Cube, sphere, and pyramid on top represent the most timeless and stable of geometric forms. Torres-Garcia’s work provides a counter to the “Magic Realism” attached to Latin American art and has been extremely influential.

Gate of the Sun, Bolivia, 500 C.E.