Women Artists in the Modern Collection

Since its inception, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation has awarded dozens of scholarships to Portuguese artists through its Fine Arts Department.
29 Nov 2019 3 min
New readings

Isabel Laginhas, Maria Gabriel and Marina Mesquita are just three of the Portuguese artists to have benefited from these scholarships during the 1960s and 1970s, either abroad or in Portugal.

At a time when Portugal was undergoing the austere period of the dictatorship, studying abroad gained added importance insofar as it allowed artists to come into contact with new international artistic trends and experiment with different techniques, materials, environments and experiences.

Marina Mesquita

Marina Mesquita (1940–2006), sculptor and wife of the artist Ângelo de Sousa, was awarded a scholarship at St. Martin’s School of Art in London in 1967/8. On her application form, she stated that the scholarship would allow her to ‘work in a school of recognised international reputation’.

Marina Mesquita

Frank Martin, the head of the Sculpture Department, widely praised his student for the quality and originality of her work. It is also clear that Marina Mesquita came into contact with new concepts such as conceptualism and experimented with new materials such as aluminium, polyester and expanded polyurethane.

One of her sculptures, in stainless steel and with a minimalist character, was exhibited at Canning House in London in 1970. In June 1971, the Foundation acquired this work, which is now on display in the main exhibition hall of the Modern Collection.

Application form by Marina Mesquita, 1967. Gulbenkian Archives
Marina Mesquita, 'Sculpture', 1971. Modern Collection

Maria Gabriel

Maria Gabriel (1937) received several Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation scholarships.

Maria Gabriel, 1960s

In 1968/9, she completed an internship at the Sociedade Cooperativa de Gravadores Portugueses in Lisbon under the guidance of João Navarro Hogan, with a view of developing her engraving and woodcutting techniques. In 1973, she received another scholarship to explore techniques of lithography at the Hochschule für Bildende Kunst in Hamburg, Germany.

Finally, together with Alice Jorge, she received a grant to develop a manual of Técnicas da Gravura Artística [Artistic Engraving Techniques], which was published in 1986.

Application form by Maria Gabriel, 1968. Gulbenkian Archives
Report of the internship in Hamburg, 1973. Gulbenkian Archives
Report of the internship in Hamburg, 1973. Gulbenkian Archives

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation owns dozens of this artist’s works, including engravings and paintings, one of which is on display on upper level of the Modern Collection.

Maria Gabriel, 'New Figurations – 6 Characters', 1982. Acrylic paint on canvas. Modern Collection
Maria Gabriel, Untitled, 1969. Modern Collection.
Maria Gabriel, Untitled, 1968. Modern Collection.

Isabel Laginhas

Like Maria Gabriel, Isabel Laginhas (1942–2018) obtained several grants from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Isabel Laginhas

In 1976, she was awarded a scholarship to develop her work in the area of modern tapestry, which allowed her to produce innovative, large-scale works that transcended the traditional concept of tapestry by making it three-dimensional.

In 1978 she received a new grant to participate in the Tapestry Biennial in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In 1981, she obtained funding to develop her first works in suede and leather, which became key materials in the consolidation of her artistic identity. She presented some of these works at the 1982 Cerveira Biennial.

Report of the work developed with a grant, 1976. Gulbenkian Archives
Report of the work developed with a grant, 1976. Gulbenkian Archives
Report of the work developed with a grant, 1976. Gulbenkian Archives

Finally, in 1990, she was awarded a scholarship to complete a specialisation in sculpture, continuing her work dedicated to object-sculptures. The works currently on display in the main exhibition hall of the Modern Collection follow this language.

Isabel Laginhas, 'Object', 1983. Modern Collection
Isabel Laginhas. 'Object', 1983. Modern Collection

Scholarship Artists

Like in the case studies presented here, the impact of the scholarships awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation have often proved to be fundamental in the training and consolidation of Portuguese artists. Other artists on display to have obtained funding to further their development include Paula Rego, Fátima Vaz, Maria Beatriz, Menez and Teresa Magalhães. 


New readings

In this section, guest artists, curators, historians and researchers reflect on the CAM Collection, exploring different perspectives and creating relationships that are sometimes unexpected. Taking one work, a certain artist or a specific theme as a starting point, these texts suggest new ways of seeing and thinking about the Collection in the light of the current historical context.

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