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First ever international, full-scale survey of the work of Mira Schendel opens at Tate Modern
Mira Schendel, London 1966 Photograph © Clay Perry, England & Co Gallery.
LONDON.- Tate Modern will stage the first ever international, full-scale survey of the work of Mira Schendel (1919-1988) from 25 September. Schendel is one of Latin America’s most important and prolific post-war artists. Alongside her contemporaries Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Schendel reinvented the language of European Modernism inBrazil. The show exemplifies how Tate is continuing to rethink and re-present the history of modern and contemporary art by showing artists who established their careers outside Europe and the USA.

The exhibition brings together over 270 paintings, drawings and sculptures from across her entire career, many of which have never been exhibited before. Highlights include her Droguinhas (Little Nothings) 1965-6, soft sculptures of knotted rice paper in the form of malleable nets, originally exhibited in London (Signals, 1966); and the Graphic Objects 1967-8, a group of works that explore language and poetry and were shown at the 1968 Venice Biennale.

Other important works in the show are Schendel’s early abstract paintings, among them Tate’s Untitled 1963; her later monotype drawings on rice paper, of which she made over 2000; and the installations Still Waves of Probability 1969 and Variants 1977. Schendel’s final complete series of works, abstract paintings entitled Sarrafos (Battens) 1987, are also included. The Sarrafos are white monochromes with a black batten extending from their surface, addressing the body, space and environment of the spectator.

Mira Schendel was born in Zurich in 1919 and grew up in Milan. After the war she lived in Rome before moving to Brazil in 1949. She settled in São Paolo in 1953, where she married Knut Schendel, and where she lived and worked until her death in 1988. Although brought up as a Catholic, Schendel was persecuted during WWII for her Jewish heritage. She was forced to leave university, due to anti-Semitic laws introduced inItaly, and flee to Yugoslavia where she lived from c.1941-45.

Schendel’s early experience of cultural, geographic and linguistic displacement is evident in her work, as is her interest in religion and philosophy. In São Paulo she developed an extraordinary intellectual circle of philosophers, poets, psychoanalysts, physicists and critics – many of them émigrés like herself – and engaged in correspondence with intellectuals across Europe, such as Max Bense and Hermann Schmitz. Among key exhibitions featuring Schendel’s work were the first and numerous subsequent editions of the São Paulo Bienal; the 1968 Venice Biennale; a solo show at the Galeria de Arte SESI, São Paulo (1997); and Tangled Alphabets with León Ferrari at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009).

Mira Schendel is organised by Tate Modern and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo in association with the Fundação de Serralves, Museu de Arte Contemporânea,Porto. It is curated by Tanya Barson from Tate Modern and Taisa Palhares from the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo and is the first major project to take place since the institutional partnership agreement signed between Tate, Pinacoteca and the Estado de São Paulo in 2012. The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue by Tate Publishing and a programme of talks and events in the gallery.



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