Emiliano Augusto Cavalcanti de Paula Albuquerque e Melo, better known as Di Cavalcanti (Sep 6, 1897 – Oct 26, 1976) was a modernist painter, draftsman, illustrator, muralist and Brazilian caricaturist. His art contributed significantly to distinguish Brazilian art from other artistic movements of his time, through its recognized vibrant colors , Sinuous forms and typically Brazilian themes such as carnival, mulatas and tropicalisms in general
Di Cavalcanti is, along with other great names of the painting as Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral and Graça Aranha, one of the most illustrious representatives of Brazilian modernism
Emiliano Augusto Cavalcanti de Albuquerque was born on September 6, 1897 in Rio de Janeiro, son of Frederico Augusto Cavalcanti de Albuquerque and Melo and Rosalia de Sena. He was the nephew of José do Patrocínio (married to his mother’s sister). He studied at the Pio Americano College And learned piano with Judith Levy, and began to work doing illustrations for the magazine Fon-Fon, a magazine that consecrated itself mainly in the political caricature, the social charge and the painting of genre. In 1916, transferring to São Paulo, it entered At the Law Faculty of Largo de São Francisco He continued to make illustrations and began to paint. The young Di Cavalcanti attended the atelier of the impressionist George Fischer Elpons and became friends with Mario and Oswald de Andrade
Between 11 and 18 February 1922, he designed and organized the Modern Art Week at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, creating for this occasion the promotional pieces of the event: catalog and program. He made his first trip to Europe in 1923, remaining in He met Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Matisse, Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and other French intellectuals. He returned to Brazil in 1926 and joined the Communist Party Seguiu Making illustrations He made a new trip to Paris and created the decoration panels of the João Caetano Theater in Rio de Janeiro
The 1930s saw Di Cavalcanti as doubting about his freedom as a man and artist and about party dogmas. He began his participation in collective exhibitions and national and international salons, such as the International Art Center in New York. In 1932, he founded in Sao Paulo, with Flávio de Carvalho, Antonio Gomide and Carlos Prado, the Club of Modern Artists He suffered his first prison in 1932 during the Constitutionalist Revolution of 1932 He married the painter Noêmia Mourão He published the album “A Realidade Brasileira”, series of twelve Drawings satirizing the militarism of the time In Paris in 1938, worked on the radio “Diffusion Française” in the emissions “Paris Mondial”
He traveled to Recife and Lisbon, where he exhibited in the hall “The Century”; When he returned, he was arrested again in Rio de Janeiro. In 1936, he hid in Paquetá Island and was arrested with Noêmia. Freed by his friends, he went to Paris and stayed there until 1940. In 1937 he received a gold medal with the decoration of the Pavilhão da Franco-Brazilian Company at the Exhibition of Technical Art in Paris With the imminence of the Second War, he left Paris and returned to Brazil, fixing himself in São Paulo A batch of more than forty works despatched from Europe did not reach the destination, If
He went on to openly combat abstractionism through conferences and articles. He traveled to Uruguay and Argentina, exhibiting in Buenos Aires. He met Zuília, who became one of his favorite models. In 1946, he returned to Paris in search of the disappeared paintings; In that same year, exhibited in Rio de Janeiro, at the Brazilian Press Association. He illustrated books by Vinícius de Morais, Álvares de Azevedo and Jorge Amado. In 1947, he entered a crisis with Noêmia Mourão – “a personality that is enough, an artist, and Temperament very complicated “Participated with Anita Malfatti and Lasar Segall of the jury of painting awards of the Group of 19 Continued criticizing the Abstractionism Exposed in Mexico City in 1949
He was invited and participated in the First International Biennial of Art of São Paulo in 1951 He made a generous donation to the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, consisting of more than five hundred drawings Beryl became his companion He refused to participate in the Venice Biennial Received The laureate of the best national painter in the II São Paulo Biennial, shared prize with Alfredo Volpi In 1954, the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro held a retrospective exhibition of his works He made new exhibitions in the Prata Basin, returning to Montevideo and Buenos Aires 1956 was the year of her participation in the Venice Biennial She received the I Prize of the International Exhibition of Sacred Art in Trieste She adopted Elizabeth, daughter of Beryl Her works were part of an itinerant exhibition by European countries Received Oscar proposal Niemeyer for the creation of images for tapestry to be installed in the Alvorada Palace; Also painted the stations for the via-sacra of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady
He won a special room at the Inter-American Biennial of Mexico, receiving a Gold Medal. He became an exclusive artist of the Petite Galerie in Rio de Janeiro. He traveled to Paris and Moscow. He participated in the May Exhibition in Paris with the screen “Tempestade” Special at the VII São Paulo Biennial Received nomination of Brazilian President João Goulart to be cultural attaché in France Embarked to Paris but did not take office because of the 1964 Coup He lived in Paris with Ivete Bahia Rocha, dubbed Divina He launched a new book ” In 1966, his works disappeared in the early 1940’s were located in the basements of the Brazilian embassy. He was nominated for a position at the [Brazilian Academy of Letters], but he was not elected Its artistic 50th anniversary was celebrated
The model Marina Montini was the muse of the painter in that decade In 1971, the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo organized a retrospective of his work Received prize of the Brazilian Association of Art Critics Celebrated his 75 years in Rio de Janeiro, in his apartment in Catete The Federal University of Bahia granted him the title of doctor honoris causa Fez exhibition of recent works in the Art Exchange and his painting Five Young Women of Guaratinguetá was reproduced in postage stamp
The 5 of April of 1975 was made Commander of the Order of the Infant D Henrique of Portugal
He died in Rio de Janeiro on October 26, 1976
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. They evoke no strong political undercurrent, as do the works of such Mexican muralists of the 1930s and 1940s as Diego Rivera and David Siqueiros. The works produced by these artists were part of the revolutionary movement in opposition of the new revolutionary government who came to power in Mexico. Di Cavalcanti on the other hand refrained from overt political representations, although he himself was in a pursuit of perfecting a pure Brazilian art which had a clear break with European influences.
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.