BIOGRAPHY OF ALMADA NEGREIROS
The proximity to the date of his disappearance and the physical presence of the work that we hosted in our Gallery (displayed at the Centro Cultural de Belém, in 1993, during the exhibition commemorating the 1st centenary of his birth and which was part of the Jorge de Brito Collection) we are motivated by this small reference to the extraordinary figure of Portuguese culture that is José de Almada Negreiros.
"For his plastic work, which ranks him among the first values of modern painting; for his literary work, which vibrates with an equal and powerful originality; for his personal action through articles and conferences - Almada-Negreiros, painter, designer, stained glass artist , poet, novelist, essayist, art critic, lecturer, dramatist, he was, it can be said that since 1910, one of the most remarkable figures of Portuguese culture and one of those who most decisively contributed to the creation, prestige and triumph of a mentality modern among us".
Jorge de Sena (1919/1978) in “ Portuguese Líricas” 1st Volume .
A few steps, in very large step:
1911, reference to its first well-known publication in the magazine “A Sátira”;
1913 , at the “International School” exhibits around ninety drawings;
1915 , contributed texts and illustrations to the publication “Portugal Artístico or Portuguese Illustration”; collaborated in the only two issues of the magazine “Orpheu” co-founded with Fernando Pessoa, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and Santa Rita (the “Geração d'Orpheu”) and participated in the 1st “Salão do Grupo dos Humoristas Portugueses”;
1917 , is the time of “Portugal Futurista” (organ of the "Comité Futurista de Lisboa" in partnership with Santa-Rita) with its controversial “Ultimatum Futurista à Portuguese Generations of the 20th Century”, of literary and graphic interventions, of which we highlight those in “Diário de Lisboa” , “ Athena”, “Presença”, “Revista Portuguesa”, “Cadernos de Poesia”, “Panorama”, “Atlântico” and “Seara Nova”.
1919-1920 , studying painting and to support himself working as a dancer in a cabaret and as a worker in a candle factory.
It wasn't - and never was - a subsidy-dependent . Rather, yes, he was a firm believer in an integral independence that he never abdicated.
1927 - 1932 , where he left a vast work in private collections.
Someone defined him as a painter-thinker. Others like an unrepentant iconoclast.
He, however, defines himself in everything he has done as a multifaceted plastic artist and master of all techniques, as an organizer of happenings and lectures, namely radio and advertising productions for cinema, as a writer, script writer and choreographer, as a stage designer and costume designer.
Regarding this last valence by Almada Negreiros, which includes the work that appears in our Gallery, it is impossible to pass without mentioning his adherence to the famously modernist aesthetic-scenic movement that the “Ballets Russes” (1909-1929) introduced from the start de 1914. Movement that Almada closely followed and to which contributed names he knew (and are now well known to the Portuguese) such as Georges Braque, Sónia Delaunay, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, among many others.
Despite the beginning of the war, the “Ballets Russes” performed in Lisbon in December 1917, at the Coliseu dos Recreios and in January 1918, at the Teatro S. Carlos. However, in October 1917, the date initially scheduled for the premiere in Portugal, Almada, José Pacheco and Ruy Coelho, (Almada Negreiros in 1925 claimed to be the only author) had already published the manifesto “Os Bailados Russos em Lisboa”, text later republished in “Portugal Futurista”.
Portuguese critics reacted at times indifferently, at times negatively, to the actions of the Russian company. (1)
Almada, coherently with what he had poured out in the manifesto, enthusiastically joined and began to live with Massine (Léonide – 1896/1979) and Diaguilev (Serge – 1872/1929) becoming intimate. Almada Negreiros, at the time, worked on his ballet “A Lenda d'Inez” – never brought to the scene – having shared with Massine and Diaguilev all the pertinent documentation (script, set design and costumes) that Diaguilev appreciated so much to the point of asking him to that was entrusted to him. He took it with him and was never returned. Diaguilev's early death, as well as other conditions of various nature, led to the extinction of the “Ballets Russes”. (two)
(1) See: Manuel de Sousa Pinto, “Impressions of Russian Ballets”, “Atlântida” magazine (December 1917, January and February 1918), with illustrations by Almada Negreiros.
(2) See: José Sasportes, History of Dance in Portugal, Lisbon, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation – Edition of the Music Service, 1970.