Mira Schendel

  • Born 1919 in Zürich, Switzerland
  • Died 1988 in São Paulo, Brazil

Mira Schendel, best known for her drawings on rice paper, is considered one of the most influential Latin American artists of her time. In 1922 after her parents’ divorce, her mother moved to Milan, where Schendel later studied philosophy. Because of her Jewish ancestry she was forced to abandon her studies, and during World War II (1939–1944) she fled Italy and moved to Sarajevo. After the war she lived in Rome until 1949, when she received permission to settle in Porto Alegre. There she studied life drawing and sculpture and made paintings and ceramics. Her first solo exhibition, in 1950, included portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. In 1953 she moved to São Paulo, where she met many other émigré intellectuals. From the 1960s onward Schendel developed a spare artistic language of geometric forms and linguistic elements. She preferred ephemeral, translucent materials as well as paint, talc, brick dust, ink, and watercolors. In 1964 she began her famous monotype drawings on Japanese rice paper: she first inked a sheet of glass, traced free-floating lines into it with her finger, and then pulled a rice paper “print.” She also created three-dimensional objects (Droguinhas) with knotted and intertwined rice paper.

Artworks by Mira Schendel in the exhibition