Isa Aderne Biography

Isa Aderne




Printmaker, photographer, designer, art restorer, and puppeteer artist Isa Aderne was born in Cajazeiras, Brazil, on March 3, 1923. Growing up in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Paraiba, and Ceara, she taught herself how to draw at an early age and was placed in pre-university classes with printmaker Renina Katz. She then attended the National School of Fine Arts. During World War II and with Brazil's staunch support of the U.S. efforts in Europe, Aderne also studied nursing, intent on joining the war effort. She remained in school and graduated with a degree in painting in 1947. She found some success in the Brazilian art market before marrying in 1949, at which point she focused her energies on raising a family.

Aderne returned to art school in the late 1950s, enrolling in the Belas Artes where she studied under Oswaldo Goeldi, a woodcut artist who was greatly influenced by the German Expressionists. Goeldi was a challenging but supportive teacher to Aderne, who remained influenced by him throughout her dual careers as teacher and artist. Her work was often political and reflected the tumultuous changes occurring throughout the world; her woodcuts especially became known for their depiction of everyday people and situations that previously were considered unworthy of artistic tribute.

After Goeldi's death in 1961, Aderne continued studying printmaking under Adir Botelho, Edson Motta, and Mario Barata, and participated in her first exhibition at the 10th National Salon of Modern Art. After graduation in 1964 she accepted her first of many teaching positions, at the Escolinha de Arte do Brasil where she remained until 1968. Additional exhibitions at this time included a solo show at the Museum of the Republic, leading to an invitation from the ambassador in Uruguay to exhibit in Montevideo and to open her own workshop in Salto. In the mid 1970s she was hired by the National Historical Museum to restore art works, developing her own techniques in the process. 

Aderne continued to teach and held positions at universities and workshops in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Salvador. She helped to establish a printmaking course through the Municiple Department of Education in Salvador, serving children throughout the community no matter their social or economic standing. This is also around the time when she began delving into theater set design in 1990, a collaborative work earned the group the Coca Cola Award for best set design for the play "Fala, Palhaco." 

In 2001 the University of Sao Paolo's Institute of Brazilian Studies held a retrospective of Aderne's work, titled Isa Aderne: Woodcuts, 1962 - 2001 in concert with the publishing of a book on her works and life. 

Aderne remained active until very near her death on February 24, 2019.