Maria Helena Vieira da Silva

Portuguese , 1908 - 1992

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was born in Lisbon, Portugal on the 13th of June 1908. Early on, she developed an interest in drawing and painting and was enrolled in the city’s Academia de Belas-Arteswhere she was to study until her teenage years. Afterwards, she studied painting with Fernand Léger, sculpture with Antoine Bourdelle and etching with Stanley William Hayter, all masters in their respective fields.

By the time she was 22, she was exhibiting her work in Paris. Her compositions, largely influenced by Cézanne, are complex, dense and evoke the spatial ambiguities of cubism. Her work in the 40’s and 50’s reflects the essence of Post-war Paris. The artist portrays the city in profile and from bird’s eye views, often creating mazes and masses of people.

She becomes a French citizen in 1956. She is also the first woman to receive the Grand Prix National des Arts in 1966 and in 1979 is named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Vieira da Silva died in Paris on the 6thof March 1992.

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