Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso

Writing Machine, 1917, Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso
None of us know how long we will live. Or, putting it more precisely, when we will die. That's just as well, many people, perhaps most people, couldn't handle such knowledge. If we could know, would it make any difference? Would we live our lives any differently? Would we plan our lives more carefully? Would we become obsessed with our own demise. As artists, would we be more creative? Would we work harder, or would we play harder? Would we enjoy life more...or less. Unless one is suicidal, those are all rhetorical questions, of course--food for thought. Just don't overeat.
Village Market, 1905, Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso, one of his
earliest works, at about age eighteen.
The answers to those questions would naturally depend upon how long one has to live. A man with a dollar spends it much more carefully than one with a million dollars. The Portuguese painter, Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso had only thirty years. He was born in 1887 and died of the Spanish flu in 1918, five weeks short of his thirty-first birthday. Yet, judging from the number of paintings and drawings he turned out in the course of a career of actually only about twelve years, the man lived and worked as if he knew precisely when the end was coming. His paintings number upward toward one-hundred with his drawings adding to that several hundred more.
The Portuguese answer to Picasso?
Portrait of Francisco Cardoso,
1912, Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso was born in Mancelos, a parish of Amarante, (northern) Portugal. His biography does not mention his parents but a painting titled Portrait of Fran-cisco Cardoso (right) painted in 1912 might well be that of his father. In 1906, Amadeo left for Paris where he began working as a drafts-man and caricaturist (below). He became acquainted with avant-garde artists such as Modigliani, Brancusi, Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Sónia and Robert Delaunay, among others. His early works, under the tutelage of the Spanish painter Anglada Camarasa, were stylistically close to impressionism. Around 1910, influ-enced both by cubism and by futurism, he became one of the first modern Portuguese painters. Cardoso's style is ag-gressive and vivid both in form and color. His works may seem random or chaotic in their compositional structure at first sight, but are clearly defined and balanced. His more in-novative paintings, such as Trou de la Serrure (below, left), which resemble collages, seem to pave the way to abstractionism or even Dadaism.

Caricature of the Artist Emmerico Nunes, 1909, Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso. He was a vicious caricaturist.

Trou de la Serrure (Keyhole),
Amadeo Cardoso
In 1913, Amadeo de Souza- Cardoso participated in two seminal exhibitions: the Armory Show in New York, that travelled to Boston, and Chicago; and the Erste Deutsche Herbstsalon at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin, Germany. Both exhibitions presented modern art to a public that was still not used to it. Amadeo was among the most commercially successful of the ex-hibitors at the Armory Show, as he sold seven of the eight works he had on dis-play. The following year, Cardoso returned to Portugal and initiated a meteoric career in the experimentation of new forms of expression there. Amadeo met with Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona in 1914, and then left for Madrid, where the shock of World War I was well underway. His friend Amedeo Modigliani showed sculptures in his Paris studio. Sousa-Cardoso returned then to Portugal where he married Lucie Meynardi Peccetto.

Clown Horse Salamandra, 1912, Amadeo de Sousa-Cardoso
In 1915 Amadeo and other artists such as Santa-Rita, Fernando Pessoa and Mário de Sá-Carneiro joined to shape Orpheu, a magazine which had only two editions and is considered by many to be the exponent of Portuguese modernism. Amadeo also participated in another magazine, Portugal Futurista, which had only one edition published. In 1916, he displayed in Oporto 114 artworks with the heading “Abstraccionism”, that also was displayed in Lisbon, with daring and some scandal. Cubism was in expansion throughout Europe and was an important influence in his analytical cubism. Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso explored ex-pressionism and in his last works he tried new techniques and other forms of plastic ex-pression.

Corpus Christi Procession, 1917, Amedeo Sousa-Cardoso
The Rise of Green Square
and the Woman's Violin, 1916,
Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso
On October 25, 1918, at the age of 30, Amadeo de Sousa-Cardoso died in Espinho, Portugal. Even considering his very short life, he left an indelible mark on the history of modern art in Portugal. His committed and prolific activity, as well as his embrace of the fresh ideas in the art of the time, have inspired many of the leading art move-ments since his time. In 1925, a retro-spective exhibition in France of the painter’s work was well received by both the public and critics. Ten years later in Portugal, the Souza-Cardoso Prize was created to distinguish modern painters. Despite some acclaim both before and after the artist's death, his work remained almost unknown until 1952, when a room dedicated to his paint-ings in the Amarante Museum once more gained him public's attention. Sousa-Cardoso's work has been the subject of two additional retrospectives, the first in 1958 and more recently in 2016, at the Grand Palais in Paris.

Amadeo and Manuel Laranjeiro,
1906, Amadeo Sousa-Cardoso


No comments:

Post a Comment