Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Learn about the artist's universe through a text accompanied by a selection of works from the exhibition “All I want – Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020”

By Calouste Gulbenkian Museum

Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes

Moi, réflechissant sur la peinture (1936/1937) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva

A firm fixture on the international art circuit from a young age, Vieira da Silva was a prominent figure within the School of Paris. She settled in the city in 1928 and met people who would go on to shape the course of her life, especially gallery owner Jeanne Bucher and the Hungarian-Jewish painter Arpad Szenes, who would later become her husband and close companion in her work.

Moi, réflechissant sur la peinture (1936/1937) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva

Moi, réfléchissant sur la peinture, 1936-1937
Oil on canvas
41,4 x 24 cm
Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, inv. VO0295

La saisie (1931) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva

La saisie, 1931
Oil on canvas
16 x 27 cm
Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, inv. VO0272

La cheminée (1930) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva

La cheminée, 1930
Oil on canvas
46 x 27 cm
Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, inv. VO0263

L'échelle (1935) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris

L'échelle, 1935
Gouache and charcoal on paper on cardboard
65 x 23 cm 
Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, inv. CR 173

Tragic History of the Sea or Shipwreck (1944) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaCalouste Gulbenkian Museum

Vieira da Silva was the first woman to receive the French Grand Prix National des Arts in 1966. Yet despite being a naturalised French citizen, her work maintained an unceasing dialogue with Portugal, her country of birth, and in particular with Lisbon, where she grew up in an intellectually stimulating environment. As an adult, she would return there on numerous occasions. Her relationship with the city was evident from her work, which contains constant references to its light, topography, architecture and tilework.

Tragic History of the Sea or Shipwreck (1944) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaCalouste Gulbenkian Museum

Tragic History of the Sea or Shipwreck, 1944
Oil on canvas
81,5 x 100 cm
Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian – Centro de Arte Moderna, inv. 78PE97

Les noyés (1938) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva

Les noyés, 1938
Oil on canvas
60 x 73 cm
Collection Fundação Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, inv. VO0299

La partie d'échecs (1943) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle (MNAM-CCI)

La partie d'échecs, 1943
Oil on canvas
81 x 100 cm
Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle (MNAM-CCI), inv. AM 4014 P

A Fernando Pessoa (1974) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle (MNAM-CCI)

A Fernando Pessoa, 1974
Ink on blotting paper
25,5 x 17,5 cm
Musée national d'art moderne – Centre de création industrielle (MNAM-CCI), inv. AM 1975-135

La Scala ou Les Yeux (1937) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris

Her conception of urban life is expressed in abstract paintings of great complexity, which proliferate through labyrinthine webs, three-dimensional lattices and mirrored perspectives. Adopting an array of formats, settings and themes, ranging from the intimate to the monumental, effervescent joy to anguish, portrayals of herself and depictions of the world, the work of Vieira da Silva asserts itself forcefully as a complex “theatre for the gaze”.

La Scala ou Les Yeux (1937) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris

La Scala ou Les Yeux, 1937
Oil on canvas
60 x 92 cm 
Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, inv. CR 224

Les yeux (1953) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris

Les yeux, 1953
Oil on concrete, silex, plaster, with stones or shells
38 x 54 x 6 cm
Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger, Paris, inv. CR 1094-1115

Autoportrait (1930) by Maria Helena Vieira da SilvaOriginal Source: Collection Comité Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, Paris

Autoportrait, 1930
Oil on canvas
54 x 46 cm
Collection Comité Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva, Paris

Credits: Story

Selection of works presented at the exhibition All I want: Portuguese women artists from 1900 to 2020, in its first moment at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, within the scope of the cultural program that takes place in parallel to the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2021.

Exhibition organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture, Directorate-General for Cultural Heritage (DGPC) and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in co-production with the Center of Contemporary Creation Olivier Debré, Tours, and with the collaboration of the Plano Nacional das Artes (Portugal).

Curators:
Helena de Freitas and Bruno Marchand


Text by Lígia Afonso / Plano Nacional das Artes
Selection of online resources Maria de Brito Matias


Learn more about Vieira da Silva's works presented in the context of this exhibition:
All I want: Starting Point
All I want: The Gaze and the Mirror
All I want: The Word

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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