José Sobral de Almada-Negreiros
07 April 1893
15 June 1970
1911 - 1970
José Sobral de Almada-Negreiros was a Portuguese painter and writer, born in the then colony of São Tomé e Príncipe. Besides literature and painting, Almada composed ballet choreographies, and worked on tapestry, engraving, murals, caricature, mosaic, azulejo and stained glass. Having drawn inspiration from Cubism and Futurist movements, Almada-Negreiros is considered one of the pivotal figures of the Modernist movement in Portugal.
He started working as a humorist and drawer in 1911, joining the first and second Portuguese Humorist salons, in 1912 and 1913.
In 1913, Almada-Negreiros made his debut as an artist on the occasion of his first individual exhibition, at the Escola Internacional de Lisboa, featuring 90 drawings.
Following the lead of other European vanguard movements of the early 20th century, Almada-Negreiros, along with writers Fernando Pessoa, Mário de Sá-Carneiro and painters such as Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso and Santa Rita Pintor, formed a group named "Orpheu’s generation". Intent on agitating, subverting and scandalizing the Portuguese conservative bourgeoisie and, by extension, all social conventions, the group launched a magazine – "Orpheu" – a journal of art and literature. Essentially, their aim was to produce a shift in the society’s mind frame, urging people to look to the future and to believe in their Man’s capacities.
The magazine Orpheu had two editions, the first of which was published in 1915. The group’s ideals were strongly influenced by those of the futurist movement, particularly, by the Russian futurist manifesto “A slap in the face of public taste”, issued in 1913.
In the same year, Almada-Negreiros wrote the satirical text "Manifesto Anti-Dantas e por extensor" This was a humorous but fierce criticism towards Julio Dantas, an influential intellectual who stoutly defended the traditional aesthetic patterns of the time and strongly opposed “vanguardism”.
By this time, the French couple Robert and Sonia Delaunay, forced into exile by time the First World War was ravaging Europe, arrived in Portugal. The two artists, pioneers of the Orphism art movement, met Almada-Negreiros and the three established a lasting friendship.
Between the years of 1918-20 Almada-Negreiros lived in Paris, working as a dancer and as a factory worker to earn a living. Although he led a relatively isolated life, he established acquaintance with some of the most prominent artists of 20th century modern art.
The 20s were a prolific period in the life of Almada-Negreiros. He published literary works such as "Pierrot e Arlequim" (1924) and works on "Nome de Guerra" (“Name of War”); wrote articles and produced drawings for the covers of several magazines and newspapers; joined the "Exhibition of the Five Independents" (1923) and I e II "Autumn Salons" (1925 e 1926).
Between the years 1927 and 1932, Almada-Negreiros lived in Madrid, having had an active role in the artistic and literary scene of the city.
However revolutionary his ideals were, his stance during António de Oliveira Salazar's dictatorship was ambiguous. On the one hand, he supported contributed to promote the regime, having produced propaganda posters and public mural paintings. On the other hand, he was an assumed provocative critic of conservative and narrow-minded Portuguese society of his time.
In 1934, he married the painter Sarah Afonso and the couple had their only son, José Afonso de Almada Negreiros.
Almada-Negreiros died of heart failure in 15th June 1970.