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Cannibal Angels

Transatlantic Modernism and the Brazilian Avant-Garde


Kenneth David Jackson

In the first three decades of the twentieth century, artists, writers, musicians, and architects from both sides of the Atlantic interacted to create a modern style for Brazil. Their works shaped Brazilian national expression and self-definition for the twentieth century and into the present, with renewed relevance as Brazil plays an increasingly important role in global affairs. Artists such as Tarsila do Amaral and Roberto Burle-Marx are appearing for the first time in museums in the United States and Europe, along with the concept of antropofagia from the «Cannibal Manifesto», a theory of cultural autonomy and a model for fusion, hybridity, and assimilation. This book offers a cultural history and interpretation of Brazilian modernism in the arts and letters, exploring how modernism depends on transatlantic negotiation and develops through interchanges between Brazilians and Europeans.
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CHAPTER 8: Eating the Self: The Modernist Artist as Cannibal


– Who are we, if not Europeans, if not Indians,

if not a species in between aborigines and Spaniards?

We are what was undone from what we used to be,

without ever becoming what we shall be or might want to be.

Not knowing who we were when we were innocent of them,

unknowing ourselves, even less do we know whom we will become.

– Darcy Ribeiro, Utopia Selvagem

… spontaneous movements

of the voracity of the vacuum

– Caio Meira, ‘Close to the bone’

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