Through its long-standing partnership with France's Musée National d'Art Moderne (MNAM), the Musée Fabre has acquired the MNAM's Veira da Silva bequest, together with its complete collection of works by this important artist.
Born in Lisbon in 1908, Vieira da Silva is closely associated with the crucial post-war period in French painting, which saw the emergence of a new "Paris school", including Bazaine, Bissière, de Staël, Manessier, Poliakoff, Soulages and Villon (most of whom are also represented at the Musée Fabre). The present exhibition presents a selection of 30 paintings and some100 drawings exploring the personality and long, fruitful career of the Hungarian painter Arpad Szenes, who became Da Silva's companion in 1928. Vieira da Silva spent the war years in voluntary exile in Brazil, and returned to Paris in 1947, when his works first began to be acquired by French public collections. La partie d'échecs ("A Game of Chess"), painted in 1943, was the first of his works to be bought by the French state, for the MNAM. Several other important works entered the MNAM's collection from 1948 to 1965. At the same time, a number of other institutions outside Paris were showing interest in Vieira's work. In 1964, the Musée de Grenoble mounted the artist's first French retrospective; and from 1969 to 1974, the Musée de Dijon amassed the biggest-ever collection of works by Vieira da Silva and Szenes, thanks to the Granville donation. In 1971, the Musée Fabre hosted a visit from the artist, for a retrospective of his paintings and prints (shown for the first time). Prior to Da Silva's death in 1992, however, the full scope of his work was not adequately represented in French public collections – a situation rectified in 1993 by a significant gift of works to the state, in lieu of inheritance tax.