Amadeo de Souza Cardoso
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Amadeo de Souza Cardoso (November 24, 1887 - October 25, 1918) was a Portuguese artist, working in the style of the vanguard of his time. Although he lived a short life, his workmanship was legendary.
He was born in Mancelos, a parish of Amarante. At the age of 18, he entered the Superior School of Fine Arts of Lisbon and two years later went to Paris, where he intended to continue his studies but soon quit the architecture course and started to study painting. In Montparnasse, he experimented with Impressionism and later with Expressionism and Cubism, and dedicated himself exclusively to painting. His first experience was drawing, especially caricatures. In 1908, he installed himself in number fourteen of the Cité de Falguière. There, he went to ateliers in the Académie des Beaux-Arts and the Viti Academy of the Catalan painter Anglada Camarasa. In 1910 he stayed for some months in Brussels and, in 1911, he displayed works in the Salon des Indépendants. He became close with artists and writers such as Gertrude Stein, Juan Gris, Amedeo Modigliani, Alexander Archipenko, Max Jacob, the couple Robert Delaunay and Sonia Terk Delaunay, and Constantin Brancusi, as well as the German artist Otto Freundlich. He was also befriended by the Italian Futurists Gino Severini and Umberto Boccioni.
In 1913, Amadeo de Souza Cardoso participated in two seminal exhibitions: the Armory Show in the USA, that travelled to New York City, Boston, and Chicago, and the Erste Deutsche Herbstsalon at the Gallery "Der Sturm" in Berlin, Germany, directed by Herwarth Walden. Both exhibitions showed modern art to a public that was still not used to it. Amadeo was among the most commercially successful of the exhibitors at the Armory Show, as he sold seven of the eight works he showed there.
Amadeo met with Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona in 1914, and then left for Madrid, where the shock of World War I was already underway. His friend Amedeo Modigliani showed sculptures in his Paris studio. Amadeo returned then to Portugal where he married Lúcia Peretto. He maintained contact with other Portuguese artists and poets such as Almada Negreiros, Santa-Rita Pintor and Teixeira de Pascoaes. On October 25, 1918, at the age of 31, he died in Espinho, of Spanish flu.
His early works, under the tutelage of the Spanish painter Anglada Camarasa, were stylistically close to naturalism and impressionism. Around 1910, influenced both by cubism and by futurism, he became one of the first modern Portuguese painters. His style is aggressive and vivid both in form and colour and the compositional structure of his works may seem random or chaotic at first sight but are clearly defined and balanced. His more innovative paintings, like "Trou de la Serrure" look like collages, and seem to pave the way to abstractionism or even dadaism.
In 1912 he published an album with twenty drawings and, after that, he copied the story of Gustave Flaubert, “La Légende de Saint Julien to l'Hospitalier”, which were ignored by appreciators of art. In 1913 he exhibited eight works in the Armory Show in the USA, some of which are now in American museums. The following year, he returned to Portugal and initiated a great and meteoric career in the experimentation of new forms of expression.
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, one and another with newness and some scandal. Cubism was in expansion throughout Europe and was an important influence in his analytical cubism. Amadeo de Souza Cardoso explored expressionism and in his last works he tried new techniques and other forms of plastic expression.
In 1925, a retrospective exhibition in France of the painter’s artwork was well received by the public and critics. Ten years later in Portugal, an award was created to distinguish modern painters: the Souza-Cardoso prize. Amadeo de Souza Cardoso was a visionary. His ink drawings, richly decorative but always figurative, bear a relationship to those of Aubrey Beardsley. His artworks are characterized by exotic landscapes with prodigious styles, decorative and surprising aspects with cubism drawings which transmitted elegance, mystery, imagination, emotion, poetry and symbolism. After his death, his work remained almost unknown until 1952, when a room dedicated to his paintings in Amarante Museum gained the public's attention. It is said that Amadeo crossed the modern painting like a comet: it was brief but intense. Although little known internationally, he is one of the most innovative artists of his time.
Selection of artworks
- Retrato de Francisco Cardoso ( Portrait of Francisco Cardoso )
- Menina dos Cravos ( Carnations girl )
- Cozinha da Casa de Manhufe ( Manhufe's kitchen )
- Entrada ( Entrance )
- Pintura (Painting) (Brut 300 TSF)
- Os falcões ( Hawks ), álbum XX dessins, publ. In Paris, 1912
- O castelo, ( Castle) 1912
- Pintura ( Painting ): Coty, 1917
- Máscara de olho verde ( the green eyed mask ), 1916