Brazil - 1897 - 1976
Brazilian, b. 1897
Emiliano Augusto Cavalcanti de Albuquerque Melo (September 6, 1897 – October 26, 1976), known as Di Cavalcanti, was a Brazilian painterwho sought to produce a form of Brazilian art free of any noticeable European influences.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1897, Di Cavalcanti was influenced by the intellectuals he met at the home of his maternal uncle, a figure of the abolitionist movement. This would provide the basis for a lifelong politically driven artistic career, which would start by the production of a drawing published by the magazine fon-fon.
In 1918, Di Cavalcanti would become part of a group of intellectuals and artists in São Paulo which, would contain artist like Oswald de Andrade, Mário de Andrade, Guilherme de Almeida, etc. This group would be the direct cause for bringing the Semana de Arte (week of modern art) in life in 1922. This movement along with the Group of Five wished to revive the artistic environment in São Paulo at the time and had as its main interest to free Brazilian art from the European influences found within it. Nevertheless, the works Di Cavalcanti displayed at the Semana revealed varying Symbolist, Expressionist, and Impressionist influences. This can thus be seen as a continuance of European stylistic influences and this would not change until Di Cavalcanti returned from Paris in 1925 to live in Rio de Janeiro once again.
Di Cavalcanti lived in Paris and Montparnasse from 1923 until 1925. During this time he attended classes at the Académie Ranson in Paris, which led him to meet European modernists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger. During this time his feelings to create a true Brazilian art would flourish and thus lead to his later works.
After returning from Europe and having experienced the modernist movement in Europe Di Cavalcanti would start working on a more Brazilian art, which Di Cavalcanti and the group who held the Semana de Arte already advocated in 1922. During this time he joined the Brazilian Communist Party due to the heightened nationalistic feelings he experienced during three years abroad
In 1932, another large group was established by Lasar Segall, Anita Malfatti, and Vitor Becheret which was the Sociedade Pró-Arter Moderna also known as SPAM. The goal of this group was to bring modernism to Brazilian art and follow in the footsteps of the Semana de Arte and encourage a revival of its ideas. On April 28, 1933 this group held the Exposição de Arte Moderna, which was the first exhibition to feature works produced by Picasso, Léger, and Braque, all of whom were known to the Brazilian people, but whose works had not been seen in the flesh before this exhibition.
Di Cavalcanti was obviously obsessed with the female body, since very many representations are to be found within the works he produced. The street scenes depicted by Cavalcanti are cheerful, characterized by a palette of bright colors and the depictions of everyday life in a normal, non-romanticized way.
He tried through the creation of the Semana de Arte in 1922 and the Bienals in 1951 and 1953 to push for a true Brazilian art, which was to be seen as separated from European stylistic influences. This was a dream and philosophy, which can be seen as an ideal for Di Cavalcanti, which was never found as one can see stylistic influences from the Italian Renaissance, Muralism, and the European Modernists.