Artwork of the Week (April 12): Abaporu

Abaporu is a 1928 painting by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral. Tarsila, as she was known, was a modernist painter who often included elements of indigenous art in her work in order to create a uniquely Brazilian style.

In Abaporu, she distorts the proportions of the subject’s body. The subject’s foot is enormous, while the head is tiny; this might make the viewer assume that the head is far off in the sky, were it not for the completely proportionate cactus on the right. In this way, Tarsila deliberately rejects the European tradition of perspective in painting. Like much of her work, Abaporu is a nationalistic piece which attempts to create a new Brazilian form of art, free from European influence.

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