Lourdes Castro (1930-2022)

Lourdes Castro passed away on Saturday 8 January, leaving behind her an indisputable legacy in the history of Portuguese art.
View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Todos os livros'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2015. Photo: Paulo Costa

Lourdes de Castro was born on 9 December 1930 in Funchal, on the island of Madeira, a location that was always closely linked to her work and where she lived in her final years. In 1956, she moved to Lisbon, where she attended the special course in painting at the Escola de Belas-Artes and where she met her future husband, artist René Bertholo. After a period in Munch, the couple moved to Paris, where they lived for 25 years.

 

Lourdes Castro, 'Crescem à Sombra', 1991. Inv. TP27

 

Between 1957 and 1958, the artist received a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, which contributed to the development of the KWY project: a magazine with 12 issues that gave rise to an artists’ collective of the same name, which included Lourdes Castro, René Bertholo, Jan Voss, Christo Javacheff, Costa Pinheiro, Gonçalo Duarte, José Escada and João Vieira.

 

View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Além da Sombra'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 1992. Photo: Reinaldo Viegas

 

During the 1960s, Lourdes Castro discovered her favourite theme, which she developed throughout her artistic career – shadow. Exploring diverse techniques and experimenting with unconventional materials, such as perspex or linen sheets, the artist produced various works around this theme, many of which are now part of the CAM Collection, in which she is amply represented with 24 works.

 

View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Grande Herbário de Sombras'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2002.
View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Grande Herbário de Sombras'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2002.

 

Her work has featured in countless solo and group exhibitions presented at the Foundation: in 1992, the CAM held a major retrospective with the title Além da Sombra [Beyond the Shadow]. This was followed by other exhibitions such as Grande Herbário de Sombras [Large Herbarium of Shadows], presented in the CAM in 2002 and at the Gulbenkian Delegation in Paris in 2009, curated by Helena de Freitas.

 

View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Todos os livros'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2015. Photo: Paulo Costa
View of the exhibition 'Lourdes Castro. Todos os livros'. Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, 2015. Photo: Paulo Costa

 

In 2015, the exhibition Todos os livros [All the Books], curated by Paulo Pires do Vale, displayed the artist’s books, a less visible but equally important dimension of her work. In 2019, the first major retrospective of her work was held in the south of France, at the Musée de Sérignan, with the support of the Gulbenkian Delegation in Paris. In 2021, a significant part of her work was presented in the exhibition Tudo o que eu quero – Artistas portuguesas de 1900 a 2020 (All I Want – Portuguese Women Artists from 1900 to 2020).

On her 90th birthday, in 2020, the artist was awarded the Medal of Cultural Merit by the Portuguese Ministry of Culture.

Updated on 11 january 2022