Just like most other parts of the world, art in Brazil has been produced for as long as humans have lived in the region of this modern-day country in South America.
Various native peoples who lived here left behind all sorts of art, including cave paintings, sculptures, and pottery.
What we define as Brazilian art today mostly encompasses the period after Brazil was colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century.
The first art created by Europeans was in line with that produced by Baroque artists in Europe in the 17th century and most revolved around religious subjects.
When a French group of Neoclassical artists arrived in Brazil in the early 19th century, it transformed the artistic landscape in the country completely.
Although it took a bit longer before modern art was embraced in the country than in Europe and the United States, this transition still happened. Brazil produced many famous modern artists in the process.
Below, you’ll find some of the most famous Brazilian artists in history, the people who have put their permanent mark on the world of art in this fascinating country.
1. Tarsila do Amaral
Tarsila de Aguiar do Amaral (1886-1973) or simply Tarsila do Amaral was a Brazilan painter and draughtswoman who was one of the main figures in modern art in Brazil.
She helped to form the transition between old traditions in art so Brazilian art critics could embrace the modern art that became popular in Europe at the turn of the 20th century.
She was one of the members of an artistic group in Brazil called the “Grupo dos Cinco.” Her most famous painting is called Abaporu, a peculiar birthday present to her husband at the time, writer Oswald de Andrade (1890-1954).
2. Cildo Meireles
Cildo Meireles (born in 1948) is a Brazilian artist who is specialized in installations. He is a conceptual artist and sculptor who was a leading figure in the concrete art movement.
His artworks are immense and often require the interaction of the viewer. IN this way, he managed to express the political concerns of his home country.
His career spans several decades and he has produced artworks since the 1960s. He has come a long way since his first exhibition in 1965.
3. Vik Muniz
Vik Muniz (born in 1961) is another contemporary Brazilian artist who made the switch during his career from sculpting to his main passion, photography.
His method consists of creating works of art, often inspired by works of the Old Masters or portraits of modern-day celebrities, and then photographing them.
He can easily be described as one of the most successful Brazilian artists of modern times. he was won multiple awards and his art has been exhibited in venues all around the world.
4. Anita Malfatti
Anita Malfatti (1889-1964) is another important Brazilian artist who stood at the cradle of modernism in Brazil. Her art was inspired by modern art from both Europe and the United States.
She is considered to be one of the first artists who introduced these influences to her native country and is, therefore, one of the most important Brazilian artists of the 20th century.
Her first exhibition in Sao Paulo took place in 1917 and it wasn’t exactly a great success. She continued to produce provocative art as a prominent member of the Grupo dos Cinco.
5. Romero Britto
His art can be described as a visual expression of happiness. They feature extremely bright and vivid colors to convey dreams and hope.
He’s another artist who has been around for a long time, starting his career at the young age of 14. He was mostly inspired during visits to Paris (Cubism and Fauvism) and the United States (Pop Art) in the 1980s.
6. Candido Portinari
Candido Portinari (1903-1962) was a Brazilian painter who is considered to be one of the most important and influential Brazilian artists of the 20th century.
His oeuvre is defined by his stance on social equality and he adopted a neo-Realistic style to convey his messages. He was equally renowned as a draughtsman and a painter.
Portinari was an extremely prolific artist who produced over 5,000 works of art. His most famous work is titled “Guerra e Paz” (1952-1956), two immense panels that were donated to the headquarters of the United Nations in 1956.
Antônio Francisco Lisboa (1730 or 1738-1814) as a Brazilian arits who is commonly referred to as “Aleijadinho.” He was one of the most prominent sculptors and architects in Colonial Brazil.
His ultimate masterpiece can be found at the Sanctuary of Congonhas and is titled the “Twelve Prophets of Aleijadinho.” This is a series of sculptures that decorate a church in the city of Congonhas.
8. Lygia Clark
Lygia Pimentel Lins (1920-1988) is better known by his artist name Lygia Clark. She was another important 20th-century Brazilian artist who produced both paintings and installations.
She was associated with the Brazilian Constructivist movement, a reflection of industrial and urban life through art. She was also involved in the Tropicalia movement in Brazil in the 1960s, a movement that combined various art movements in the country.
Clark was a versatile artist who also co-founded the Neo-Concrete movement. Later on, she became a pioneer in producing installations in which viewers can interact with the artworks.