Maria Helena Vieira da Silva
18.06.1908 (Lisbon, Portugal) - 06.03.1992 (Paris, France)
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was born in Lisbon in 1908 and was a Portuguese-French artist. Although she was generally regarded as Portugal's greatest contemporary artist, Vieira da Silva spent six decades of her life in France, where she became a naturalised citizen in 1956.
She received her artistic training at the Academia de Belas-Artes in Lisbon from the age of 11, and moved to Paris in 1928. She was taught painting by French cubist painter Fernand Léger (1881-1955), sudied sculpture with Antoine Bourdelle, and engraving with Stanley William Hayter, all acknowledged masters in their field.
In 1930, the year she married Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes, Vieira da Silva had her first exhibition in Paris. By the 1950s she had become internationally known for her dense and complex compositions, influenced by the art of Paul Cézanne and the fragmented forms, spatial ambiguities, and restricted palette of cubism. She exhibited her work widely, winning a prize for painting at the Biennial in São Paulo in 1961. She was the first woman to receive the French government's Grand Prix National des Arts in 1966; she also won a multitude of awards and honors, including the honor of being named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1979.