Maria Helena Vieira da Silva
Artist / Painter

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was a French-Portuguese painter. Noted for blurring the lines between representation and abstraction, Vieira da Silva’s paintings are produced in a limited palette. Her compositions often consist of checkerboard or grid patterns, layered on top of one another to create spaces reminiscent of interior rooms or aerial city views. Born on June 13, 1908 in Lisbon, Portugal, she moved to France at an early age where she was influenced stylistically and conceptually while studying under artists such as Fernand Léger, Émile Antoine Bourdelle, and Stanley William Hayter. To escape World War II, Vieira da Silva and her husband, the painter Arpad Szenes, fled to Rio de Janeiro, where she lived for seven years. After the war, she returned to Paris, where she remained for the rest of her life and received French citizenship in 1956. Her work, likened to both the mid-century Tachisme and Abstract Expressionism movements, has been critically celebrated throughout the world. The artist was a recipient of a prize at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1961, and the Árpád Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation in Lisbon was built in 1994, a museum that houses a large portion of her works. She died on March 6, 1992 in Paris, France.