Portrait of Iole de Freitas

Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1945, Iole de Freitas moved to Rio de Janeiro when she was seven years old. As a child de Freitas took painting classes at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro with Ivan Serpa (1923–1973), one of the founders of the influential constructivist Grupo Frente. From a young age until her twenties, de Freitas studied dance, an experience that she relates to her long-standing interest in space and movement. In the 1960s she became involved with the Ateliê de Ipanema, run by Luiz Watson, who also worked in political theater during the military regime. At the atelier de Freitas learned to make copper jewelry and weave on a manual loom; there she also met the artist Antonio Dias (b. 1944), who would become her husband.

Between 1960 and 1965 de Freitas studied industrial design at the Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial in Rio de Janeiro. In 1970 she moved to Italy, where she lived for eight years. There she developed design projects for the typewriter manufacturer Olivetti and for other companies. While in Italy de Freitas created experimental films and photographic sequences registering her interaction with elements she placed in her studio, such as mirrors, metal pieces, or fabric, in works that articulated bidimensional images, space, and temporality. In 1974 the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro presented her first solo exhibition, a series of photographic sequences. Back in Brazil in 1978, de Freitas began to focus on three-dimensional pieces made of such everyday materials as wire, cloth, glass, and rubber. In 1986 the artist received a Fulbright-Capes scholarship to conduct research at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the 1990s her sculptures became larger, and she continued this spatial expansion in the 2000s with pieces that engaged in a dialogue with the surrounding space.

Since 1991 de Freitas has been involved with the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro. She has also held important positions in institutions dedicated to design and art in Brazil, directing the Fundação Nacional de Arte and Instituto Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Her work has been widely exhibited in Brazil and abroad, at the 9th Paris Biennale (1975); Mercosul Bienal, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2005); and Documenta, Kassel, Germany (2007). Besides private collections, her work is in numerous public institutions, such as the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de São Paulo, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, and Museu da Pampulha in Belo Horizonte.

—Mariana von Hartenthal

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1974 Iole de Freitas, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro

1985 Iole de Freitas, Galeria Paulo Klabin, Rio de Janeiro

1997 O corpo na escultura: A obra de Iole de Freitas, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (traveled)

2000 Iole de Freitas, Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro

2015 Iole de Freitas: O peso de cada um, Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro 

Selected Bibliography

Camargo, Sérgio de, Maria Camargo, and Iole de Freitas. Preciosas coisas vãs fundamentais. São Paulo: BEĨ Comunicação, 2010.

Carneiro, Lúcia, and Ileana Pradilla. Iole de Freitas. Rio de Janeiro: Lacerda and Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, Secretaria Municipal de Cultura do Rio de Janeiro, 1998.

Da Silva, Fernando Pedro, and Marília Andrés Ribeiro, eds. Iole de Freitas: Depoimento. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: C/Arte, 2005.

De Freitas, Iole. O desenho da fala. Rio de Janeiro: Suzy Muniz, 2012.

Salzstein, Sônia. Iole de Freitas: Uns nadas. São Paulo: Gabinete de Arte Raquel Arnaud, 2004.