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Lasar Segall was one of the most influential Brazilian modernists until his death in 1957. Born into an orthodox Jewish family in Vilnius, Lithuania, Segall immersed himself in the world of art and travelled to Berlin to study at the tender age of 15. Even before he turned 20, he was putting on solo shows and working with artists like Otto Dix and Georg Grosz. Together they laid the foundation for German Expressionism.
Finding his hometown destroyed after World War I, a restless and homeless Segall moved to Brazil in 1923. In São Paulo, Segall's artistic focus changed. He painted fellow immigrants as well as Afro-Brazilians, and would depict himself as a mulatto - a controversial move in a European-obsessed country.
Segall came to join the ranks of Brazil's leading artists and the Brazilian modernist movement. Yet, even in Brazil he couldn't escape the stigma of being Jewish. The Nazis exhibited his work in the 1937 show of 'degenerate art', and his retrospective at the Museu de Bellas Artes in Rio in 1943 incited protests from right-wing intellectuals.
Segall's São Paulo home was turned into the non-profit Museu Lasar Segall in 1967, where his most famous works are on display. The organisation also runs a variety of art classes and print-making courses, and houses a small-screen cinema.
4 Mar 2013.