Tarsila do Amaral
A Negra (Black Woman), 1923
Oil on canvas
100 x 81,3 cm
Donated MAMSP

A painting that precedes the "anthropophagic" movement, which would only occur in 1928. This painting of a naked one, thick lips with heavy and pending breasts, sitting, with thick and rough arms and legs, has a static look, like an evoked image or a vision resulting from a past memory flash. As an image it is a presence, as an evocation it is inert, like a being on the watch.
According to a testimony given by the artist herself, this black woman’s image is based on stories the farm female slaves from her childhood told. They talked about things that impressed little Tarsila, like the case of the slaves who worked in the coffee plantations and who, unable to stop working, tied pebbles to her nipples in order to able, with the nipples stretched this way, to put her breasts over her shoulders to breastfeed their children, who they carried on their backs. The artist placed a banana tree leaf in semi-curved diagonal behind the woman.
It is a landmark that entwines the black woman image, from the Brazilian imagination, in front of the painting, with the background, associated to the cubist constructive discipline. The background is actually a constructive exercise of shapes and colors that unfold in bands on the surface, like a bi-dimensional woof. Thus she articulates or combines the autonomous structure of the pictorial space with the figurative composition. This painting is already a mixture of land values and the updating of the plastic language, proclaimed by the modernists of the Week of 1922.

Daisy Peccinini