5 Little Known Facts about Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

5 Factos sobre Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Through her works that range from figurative to abstract, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva has marked the history of Portuguese and international art. His path started in Paris, was associated with its versatility, with a set of works ranging from painting, sculpture, tapestry, passing through illustration and scenography. With great respect for the purity of the selected means of expression and through her original geometric compositions, she became one of the most celebrated abstract artists in post-war Europe. His works are exhibited all over the world, being shown in repeated retrospectives. This week, P55 presents the fascinating world of Maria Helena Vieira da Silva by revealing five facts about her life. 

1. Studied Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Lisbon

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was born on June 13, 1908, in Lisbon, into an upper-class family linked to culture, having shown interest in reading, painting and music from an early age. He studied Drawing and Painting at the Lisbon Academy of Fine Arts, and also Anatomy at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon. Due to his interest in sculpture, he decided to attend the anatomy course to deepen his knowledge of the different and different angles of the human body.

2. The First Exhibition in Portugal was in 1935

In 1933, he exhibited his works in an exhibition at the Salon de Paris, the most prestigious Parisian hall at the time. In Portugal, he exhibited for the first time two years later, in 1935, at the UP Gallery. In 1936, Vieira da Silva returned to exhibit his works in Lisbon, this time with her husband Arpad Szenes .

Vieira da Silva | P55 Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art

Elegie pour Georges Pompidou de Vieira da Silva , 1978

3. Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was a woman of causes

With the development of the far right in Europe, in 1935, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and her husband, Arpad Szenes , of Jewish origin, joined the group Amis du Monde, an association created by artists who wanted to resist fascist movements. Due to the growth of anti-Semitic attacks, they decided to live temporarily in Portugal. They returned to Paris to exhibit, but with the outbreak of World War II, the couple returned to Portugal seeking to obtain Portuguese nationality, although this was not conceived by the Estado Novo. Thus, both being stateless, the couple left for Brazil, where they coexisted with important local artists and exerted a great influence on the Brazilian modernist movement. After the end of World War II, they returned to France.

Moved by the Carnation Revolution, at the invitation of Sophia de Mello Breyner, she created two memorable posters with historical references and symbols of the revolution, thus revealing her connection to freedom and democracy: A Poesia está na Rua and another, 25 de Abril de 1974 and A Poesia is on the Street. In 1979, he accepted to be a member of the Honor Committee of the Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples, at the invitation of Pierre Paraf, President of the Movement. Throughout her life, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva defended women's rights and democracy, in addition to fighting racism and war.

Vieira da Silva | P55 - Magazine | P55 - The Platform of Art Vieira da Silva , 1962

4. The artistic recognition in Portugal came after the Carnation Revolution

The artist has a vast work from tapestries, stained glass, engravings, illustrations from children's books and theater sets, however these were little recognized during the Estado Novo regime. The recognition and dissemination of his work was conceived after the implantation of democracy in Portugal, in 1974. The Portuguese government awarded him, in 1977, the highest non-military decoration, the Grand Cross of the Order of Sant'Iago da Espada .

5. Maria Helena Vieira da Silva created the Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation

In 1990, the Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation (FASVS) was created in Jardim das Amoreiras, in Lisbon. After the death of her husband, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva decided to create a study center dedicated to their work, in her house in Lisbon. The museum opened in November 1994, just four years later, but too late, as Maria Helena Vieira da Silva died in March 1992. This museum houses a large part of the works of both artists, thus prolonging this eternal love , interweaving in their pictorial and plastic experiences that overflow with feelings, from lines, colors and lights.

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