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Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992)
Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992)

Le vent (The Wind)

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992)
Le vent (The Wind)
signed 'Vieira da Silva' (lower right)
oil on canvas
31 7/8 x 39 3/8in. (81 x 100cm.)
Painted in 1953
Galerie Pierre, Paris.
Achille Cavellini, Brescia.
Paul Haim, Paris.
Gabriel Sabet Collection, Switzerland (acquired from the above in 1972).
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 9 December 1998, lot 16.
Private Collection, Europe.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Illustré Magasin, Lausanne, 16 January 1958 (illustrated).
H. Stierlin, 'Au Musée des Beaux-Arts de La Chaux-de-Fonds: La Collection Cavellini, Un aspect de l'art abstrait', in Tribune de Genève, Geneva, 25 February 1958 (illustrated).
P. Lassaigne, 'La Nuova Pittura a Parigi dopo il 1945', in L'Arte Moderna, vol. XI, no. 101, Milan 1968 (illustrated in colour, p. 57).
E. Truan,'Vieira da Silva ou la Désobéissance', in Supplément de La Tribune de Genève, Geneva, 6 March 1968 (illustrated).
G. Weelen & J-F. Jaeger, Vieira da Silva Catalogue raisonné, Geneva 1994, no. 1030 (illustrated, p. 201).
Lissone, 8 Premio Lissone Internazionale per la Pittura: Francia- Germania-Italia, 1954 (illustrated).
Rome, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Pittori Moderni della Collezione Cavellini, 1957, no. 176 (illustrated).
Basel, Kunsthalle, Sammlung Cavellini, 1958, no. 80 (illustrated). This exhibition later travelled to La Chaux-de-Fonds, Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Kassel, Documenta II, Internationale Ausstellung, 1959, no. 3, p. 428.

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Lot Essay

Le Vent is an arresting example of Vieira da Silva's investigations into spatial and existential representation. Executed in 1953 this was the year that Vieira da Silva won the Sao Paulo Biennale; a prize which recognised her contribution to art over her exile in Brazil. Following the liberation, Vieira da Silva moved to Paris where she completed the painting, opening up the closed architectural spaces of her earlier works. Le Vent assembles a mixture of colourful rectangular forms, dominated by a spectrum of inky blues and greys. A web of dark lines spiral as if by the wind, into a core vanishing point. Other lines extend laterally and horizontally encouraging the eye to wander across a disorientating choice of paths. Here the artist multiplies the spatial perspectives to create a new diversity, expressing the bewilderment and lack of orientation evident in post War Europe. Speaking to historian José Augusto França in 1963, Vieira da Silva explained: 'Nowadays, we live as if we were nailed to the cross of perspective' (quoted in G. Rosenthal, Vieira da Silva 1908-1992: The Quest for Unknown Space, Cologne, 1998, p.54).

Vieira da Silva remained deeply wed to questions of perspective, although at odds with the prevailing artistic concerns of the time. Whilst parallels have been drawn with the Abstract Expressionists and Lyrical Abstractionists, Vieira da Silva's careful balance between inspiration, control and spontaneity make her practice unique. Wols who was a great admirer of her work, once asked her why, when contemporary painting tended to become stabilized in surface effects, she reintroduced perspective. Vieira da Silva replied that it was because of this lack of interest that she continued. Perspective captivated the artist's imagination.

Le Vent forms part of a tradition in Vieira da Silva's work; indeed her entire oeuvre developed with a sort of internal unity. The artist herself emphasised this relationship suggesting: 'ever since my youth, themes have been recurring, albeit with some differences. It is true that there is no progress; sometimes, however we achieve a state of grace'. (quoted in G. Rosenthal, Vieira da Silva 1908-1992: The Quest for Unknown Space, Cologne, 1998, p.55). Le Vent represents an important part of this project and a beautiful example of her mastery.

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