The core of the Serralves Collection is contemporary art produced from the 1960s to present time. Art produced before 1960 can also be considered depending on its relevance to the Collection and the artists involved. “Circa 1968”, the inaugural exhibition of the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art in 1999, gave particular attention to the seminal decades of the 1960s and 1970s, a historical period of political, social and cultural changes at a planetary level with the emergence of new paradigms of making art and the birth of the postmodern era.
Fulfilling its program of permanent research and development, the Serralves Collection aims to distinguish itself through careful attention to the creation of art in the 21st century, in particular to the relationship between the visual arts and performance, architecture and contemporaneity within the context of a post-colonial and globalized present. While echoing the art and ideas of our recent past, the Collection aims to reflect on how today’s art also anticipates its future.
Helena Almeida (Lisbon, 1934 – Sintra, 2018) completed the degree in Painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon in 1955 and exhibited regularly since the late 1960s. Her first solo exhibition was in 1967 at Galeria Buchholz, in Lisbon.
Throughout her career, Helena Almeida questioned the traditional artistic media, in particular painting, a discipline from which she explored other disciplines, such as drawing, performance, video and photography. In her early works, the artist reflects on the materiality and limits of the pictorial space, working the canvas in an unconventional way, such as painting its back or adding everyday objects to it. Following those initial works, the artist found in photography the ideal medium to explore the tension between her work and her body, an ever-present theme in her artistic thinking that lead her to resort to self-representation, for which she became known nationally and internationally.
Helena Almeida represented Portugal at the Biennales of São Paulo (1979), Venice (1982 and 2004) and Sidney (2004) and had important solo exhibitions in Portugal and abroad.
Alberto Carneiro (S. Mamede do Coronado, Trofa 1937 – Porto, 2017) studied, between 1947 and 1958, the technologies of wood, stone and ivory at the religious art ateliers of his hometown, an initial experience that marked his subsequent artistic work. He studied Sculpture at the School of Fine Arts of Porto (1961-1967) and attended the St Martin’s School of Art (1968-1970), in London, where he had direct contact with emerging artistic trends, namely conceptual art and land art, which had a great influence on his work.
Alberto Carneiro is considered a pioneer of conceptual art in Portugal and throughout his career he developed a unique relationship between art and nature. The use of raw natural materials, the use of photography as a mediator of the subject’s relationship with nature and the anthropological and aesthetic approach to natural landscape are some of the means through which Carneiro contributed to the renewal of Portuguese sculpture that took place from the mid 1960s onwards.
His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Portugal and other European countries, and the artist represented Portugal at the Paris (1969), Venice (1976) and São Paulo (1977) Biennales. His work Ser Árvore e Arte, 2000–02, is permanently installed at the Serralves Park, having been specifically conceived for that space.
Leonor Antunes (Lisbon, 1972) graduated in Visual Arts – Sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon in 1998 and lives in Berlin since 2005. Leonor Antunes explores the relationships between sculpture, architecture, design and the decorative arts. An attentive researcher of some of the most iconic buildings of the 20th century, the artist appropriates formal elements collected in the scope of her investigation, giving them new contexts to question the way we look at modernity and its critical reception. Measure, scale, proportion and the ductile character of materials, such as leather, rubber and various metals, are fundamental elements in the artist’s work, used to create spaces of tension between seriality and manufacture.
Leonor Antunes has represented Portugal at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. Her work has been widely shown, both nationally and internationally.
António Barros (Funchal, 1953) studied at the University of Coimbra and at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Barcelona. During the 1970s and 1980s, he organized several exhibitions, meetings and performance cycles at the Círculo de Belas-Artes [Fine Arts Circle] of Coimbra.
António Barros’ work is strongly associated with visual and experimental poetry. In 1980, he participated in the exhibition “Po-Ex”, at the then National Gallery of Modern Art in Lisbon and, in 1984, he collaborated in the publication of Poemografias: Perspectivas da Poesia Visual Portuguesa [Poemgraphies: Perspectives on the Portuguese Visual Poetry], which was at the origin of the 1st Biennale of Visual Poetry that took place in Mexico in 1985. Barros combines a poetic and metaphorical exploration of objects with the plastic treatment of language, creating object-poems with a strong critical sense, irony and irreverence. António Barros was one of the artists represented in the exhibition “PO-EX”, organized and presented at the Serralves Museum in 1999.
René Bertholo (Alhandra, 1935 – Vila Nova de Cacela, 2005) attended the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon (ESBAL) between 1951 and 1957. From an early age, still a student at ESBAL, he was an active critic of the Portuguese artistic education marked by conservatism and absence of freedom. In 1957, he left Portugal for Munich and a year later he went to Paris, where he started publishing the KWY magazine with Lourdes Castro, Costa Pinheiro and Gonçalo Duarte, who had followed the same path and were later joined by João Vieira, José Escada, Jan Voss and Christo. Bertholo began by painting canvases with a strong dreamlike bent and pop inspiration, followed by a series of motorized objects, of great formal simplicity, representing archetypes of landscapes alluding to the images typical of tourist advertising. In the mid-1970s he returned to painting.
René Bertholo was part of the Portuguese representation at the São Paulo (1959) and Paris (1962) Biennales. Until the end of the 1970s, when he returned to Portugal, he participated in several exhibitions in European countries. In 2000, the Serralves Museum presented an anthological exhibition of his work.
Carlos Bunga (Porto, 1976) studied at the School of Fine Arts and Design of Caldas das Rainha and currently lives in Barcelona. Bunga works at the intersection of areas such as painting, sculpture, photography, performance and video and often develops ephemeral site-specific projects, in which he uses poor materials, as cardboard and packaging adhesive tape. In contrast to the simplicity of the materials, his work is based on a consistent and sensitive poetic and conceptual approach to themes such as memory, the relationship with architecture, the fragility of urban life, demography, emigration and social issues.
Carlos Bunga has developed a significant national and international career, exhibiting in renowned institutions, both in Europe and in the United States, Canada and Latin America.
Pedro Cabrita Reis (Lisbon, 1956) attended the course of Painting at the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon and had his first solo exhibitions in 1981at Galeria Diferença and the National Society of Fine Arts.
In an extensive and poetic reflection on images and memory, Pedro Cabrita Reis has used since the 1980s a multiplicity of media such as drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and installation, the latter being particularly suited to the issues of space occupation that he has a great deal of interest in. Painting, however, never ceased to be present in his work, materialized through more or less conventional techniques. His approach to the work of art is a means for the development of speculative anthropological, historical and philosophical concepts, which often result in metaphorical creations. Cabrita uses a wide range of techniques and simple materials, such as wood, glass, plaster, stone, acrylic, fabric, as well as discarded and everyday objects.
Cabrita has an impressive international career and his work has been widely exhibited in Portugal and around the world. He participated in numerous and important international exhibitions, namely Documenta 9 in Kassel (1997), the 24th Biennale of São Paulo (1998) and the Biennale of Venice (2003).
Lourdes Castro (Funchal, 1930 – 2022) studied Painting at the School of Fine Arts of Lisbon from 1950 to 1956. In 1957, after spending some time in Munich, she settled in Paris with René Bertholo, with whom she founded the KWY magazine (1958–63), which included Christo, Jan Voss, José Escada, João Vieira, Costa Pinheiro and Gonçalo Duarte.
In the early Parisian years, after a short period dedicated to abstract painting, Lourdes Castro began producing the first collages or assemblages with objects she found, followed by the discovery of what would become the central theme of her career – the shadow. In her incessant research on the shadow, Castro experiments with an immense variety of materials, mediums and techniques – silkscreen printing, acrylic, painting, embroidery – beginning by representing the people around her and, later, objects, plants and flowers.
In 2000 Lourdes Castro participated in the Biennale of São Paulo and exhibited in numerous national and international institutions during her career.