Helena Almeida’s archive donated to the Gulbenkian Foundation

The archive, to be included in the collection of the Art Library, will shed new light on the work of one of the most brilliant Portuguese artists.

The donation was made at the wish of the family of Helena Almeida (1934-2018), creator of one of the most relevant artistic paths of the second half of the 20th century in Portugal, widely represented in the CAM collection and grantee of the Gulbenkian Foundation in Paris in 1964.

The collection consists of a diverse set of documentation, which includes correspondence with various entities, institutions and gallerists, files on the sale of works of art and also files relating to exhibitions, sometimes containing plans of the rooms and images documenting the installation of the works. Of the approximately 8900 photographic species that make up this collection, more than 6000 illustrate works of art, allowing a better clarification of the work process carried out by the artist between 1967 and 2018. The collection also includes press articles, reviews, and a set of catalogues from the 1970s and a nucleus of works of art history and aesthetics (from the late 1950s to the 1970s) owned by the artist and her husband, the architect and sculptor, Artur Rosa.

This collection will not only allow a better understanding of the artistic practice of Helena Almeida, but also help put into context the national artistic panorama.

According to the Foundation’s trustee, Guilherme d’Oliveira Martins “its integration in the Art Library collection, joining the Alberto Carneiro Archive and the archives of Fernando Calhau, David de Almeida and Jorge Vieira, will contribute to consolidating the library as a reference for the study and understanding of Portuguese artistic production between the second half of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century”.

This Collection will be gradually made available as it is being catalogued and will serve as a support to the research on the 16 works of the artist that are part of CAM’s Collection and to the study of national and international researchers, curators and critics.


Biographical Note

Helena Almeida (1934-2018) is one of the leading figures of Portuguese contemporary art. She studied painting at Escola Superior de Belas Artes de Lisboa in 1955. Her ties with the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation began in 1961, with her participation in the II Exhibition of Plastic Arts, which was followed by the attribution of a grant, in 1964, so that she could carry out her studies in Paris, and a subsidy, in 1966, also allowing her to stay in the French capital. Upon her return to Lisbon, Helena Almeida held her first solo exhibition at the Buchholz Gallery (1967), displaying works that already highlighted her questioning of the limits of pictorial space, which she would continue to develop and explore in her artistic practice. In the following decades, the artist continued to work on self-representation, reflecting on the tense relations between the body, the space and the work, using her body as a support and object of creation, through painting, photography, engraving, installation and video. The relevance of Helena Almeida’s artistic path has been demonstrated by the presence of her work as part of the Portuguese representation at the Biennales of São Paulo (1979), Venice (1982 and 2004) and Sydney (2004), as well as by exhibitions in renowned museums: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (1983, 1987, 2006), Centro Galego de Arte Contemporaneo (CGAC, Santiago de Compostela, 2000) and Museo Extremeño e Iberoamericano de Arte Contemporaneo (MEIAC. Badajoz, 2000), Centro Cultural de Belém (2004), Drawing Art Centre (New York, 2004), Fundación Telefónica (Madrid, 2009) and Museu de Serralves (2015-2016).  Helena Almeida, daughter of the sculptor Leopoldo de Almeida, received several awards, such as the 1st Prize for Drawing, Coimbra (1969); the Vila Nova de Cerveira Biennial Prize (1984); the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Prize (1984); the BESphoto Prize (2004) and also the AICA Prize (2004). 

Updated on 18 january 2022

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