Almada Negreiros, José Sobral de (1883–1970) By Muñoz, Antonio Trinidad
José Sobral de Almada Negreiros was a Portuguese artist (mainly writer and painter) and a most dynamic and multifaceted figure in early 20th-century Portuguese culture. Moving constantly between literature and the visual arts, he produced a multidisciplinary oeuvre. Both in his literary work, which includes poetry, short stories, drama, and essays, and in his painting and graphic work, Almada Negreiros took a rebellious and combative stance towards traditional academism and aesthetic conservatism. One of the main advocates of avant-garde in Portugal, he also championed the modernization of the country, motivated by the ideal of “educating the people through scandal.”
Born in the then Portuguese African colony of São Tomé e Príncipe, Almada Negreiros lost his mother at the age of three. Because his father was organizing the Pavilion of Portuguese Colonies for the 1900 World Fair in Paris, he spent his childhood and adolescence in a boarding school in Lisbon. Later on he attended a secondary school in Coimbra and the International School in Lisbon. Almada Negreiros would never obtain a university degree; he was a self-taught artist and a fervent reader and drawer from a very young age. In 1911 he started his career as a collaborator of the newspaper A Sátira; a year later, he participated in the I Salão dos Humoristas (first Salon of Humorists), an exhibition of caricatures and graphic humor in Lisbon.