Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Beach (A Praia)

Artist:
Beatriz Milhazes (Brazilian, born Rio de Janeiro 1960)
Date:
1997
Medium:
Acrylic, metallic paint, and metal leaf on canvas
Dimensions:
102 x 33 7/8 in. (259.1 x 86 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Professor and Mrs. Zevi Scharfstein, by exchange, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.80
Not on view
The Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes fuses modernist styles of painting with the emblems of her cultural heritage. Her abstract compositions are typically layered with imagery, particularly floral designs and ornate circular medallions. Milhazes draws upon local visual traditions as diverse as Baroque colonial art, with the filigree halos of its saints; folk styles of decorative painting on furniture and architecture; and the mass-produced textiles, wallpaper, and ceramic tile of her everyday surroundings. In addition, her brilliant color schemes recall the costumes and parade floats of Carnival, especially as celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, her hometown and the cultural capital of Brazil.

For The Beach, Milhazes devised a narrow, vertical format with a cascading, off-center arrangement of forms. The upper portion suggests a cluster of vines laden with fruit and flowers, as well as elaborate orbs that evoke heavenly bodies or hanging lanterns. The composition as a whole can be viewed as a woman in profile, wearing a tiered, ruffled skirt and concealing herself behind the draping vines and jewel-like spheres. The traditionally "feminine" motifs of flowers and ornamental trimmings are not only typical of Milhazes' work, but also establish associations between her art and certain crafts customarily assigned to women, such as lacemaking, sewing, and beadwork.

Like her imagery, Milhazes' working method is eclectic, and derives from both printmaking and collage. She paints her images on sheets of plastic, and then applies the images to the canvas by means of transfer techniques. This process gives the painted forms an unusual smoothness of surface, which she then embellishes with details in visible brushwork. The completed canvas, however, is a seamlessly conceived image that seduces the eye with its interplay of festive colors, layered forms, and patternings of ornament and abstraction.
Inscription: Signed, dated, and inscribed (on reverse): B. Milhazes/ 260 x 86 cm/ 1997/ acr si tela/"A PRAIA"
the artist, Rio de Janeiro (1997–98; sold through the Edward Thorp Gallery, New York to MMA)

Tate Liverpool. "Hybrids: International Contemporary Painting," April 6–June 24, 2001, unnumbered cat. (p. 61; as "A Praia").

Paulo Herkenhoff. Beatriz Milhazes: Color and Volupté. Rio de Janeiro, [2006], ill. p. 60 (color), calls it "A Praia".



Related Objects

A Big Apple

Artist: Jorge Eduardo (Brazilian, born 1936) Date: 1990 Medium: Acrylic on Masonite Accession: 1993.239 On view in:Not on view

No. 13 (White, Red on Yellow)

Artist: Mark Rothko (American (born Russia), Dvinsk 1903–1970 New York) Date: 1958 Medium: Oil and acrylic with powdered pigments on canvas Accession: 1985.63.5 On view in:Not on view

Jean Paulhan

Artist: Jean Dubuffet (French, Le Havre 1901–1985 Paris) Date: 1946 Medium: Acrylic and oil on Masonite Accession: 1999.363.20 On view in:Gallery 906

Dancing in Colombia

Artist: Fernando Botero (Colombian, born 1932) Date: 1980 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 1983.251 On view in:Not on view

Being With (Être Avec)

Artist: Roberto Matta (Chilean, Santiago 1911–2002 Civtavecchia, Italy) Date: 1946 Medium: Oil on canvas Accession: 2003.270 On view in:Not on view