After starting a relationship with communist doctor Osório Cesar and taking a tour of the Soviet Union, Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral joined the Communist Party herself. The relationship was short lived, as was her infatuation with communism. A few of her works, however, remain as a reminder of her once strongly held political beliefs.
Workers (Operários) is considered to be the first painting with a social theme in the history of Brazilian art. It presents a pyramid of human heads – much resembling a pile of skulls in its arrangement – dreary and fatigued. Women and men, white, mixed race or black, young or old, they all look defeated, drained of life. The monotonous factories fuming in the background are the obvious cause of their misery. The way in which the heads are arranged, like a swelling tide, suggests that we’re seeing only a fraction of the mass of exhausted workers.