Organised by an avant-garde group of intellectuals the event, at the Municipal Theatre in February 1922, consisted of exhibitions of visual art, concerts, poetry and prose readings and lectures on contemporary aesthetic theory.
Its artistic ideology is best summarised by the poet and writer Oswald de Andrade who declared that Brazil’s cultural mission was to devour Europeans, just as the Indians had reputedly dispatched their colonisers. Although the event was beset with controversy with audience members heckling the artists, it brought into focus a cultural explosion in the arts in Brazil and made São Paulo the radical centre of this new wave of creativity. It was anarchical and avant-garde and its purpose was to shock modern art in Brazil into existence.
Artists who participated in the Semana de Arte Moderna include Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Anita Malfatti, Tarsila do Amaral and Lasar Segall, the sculptor Victor Brecheret and the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.