Arthur Luiz Piza Biography

Arthur Luiz Piza




Arthur-Luiz Piza, printmaker, painter, and sculptor, was born in São Paulo, Brazil, on January 13, 1928. He was given private painting lessons from Brazilian Modernist Antonio Gomide beginning in 1948. After participating in the 1st São Paulo Biennale (1951), he developed an interest in engraving and other intaglio printmaking methods. In 1952 he moved to Paris, settling in the Montparnasse district, where he studied under printmaker Johnny Friedlaender. This pivotal time would shape the trajectory of his career, and intaglio printmaking would become his preferred medium for several decades. He exhibited his new Parisian work at the 2nd São Paulo Biennale and was awarded the Purchase Prize. In 1953 he held his first major solo shows, one in Brazil and one in Paris at the La Hune gallery.

By the late 1950s he was exhibiting frequently. By now he had started experimenting with thick-cut copper plates whose surfaces he manipulated with a gouge and chisel as well as deep-bite techniques, creating an embossment on the paper. These he would print using inks of his own concoction, some of which left a gloss that added further dimension to the work. His innovative style would earn him the National Engraving Prize in 1959 at the 5th Annual São Paolo Biennale; that same year, he exhibited at Documenta in Kassel, Germany. He participated in several group exhibitions in France, Brazil, Switzerland and Germany, gaining critical acclaim and earning awards. 

Along with other Latin American artists in Paris at the time, including Julio Le Parc and Luis Tomasello, Piza co-founded the Espacio Latinoamericano association, which focused on promoting the work of Latin American artists in Europe. This was partially funded by Roberto Matta, by then already an established Chilean artist in Europe, who would donate several paintings to the group. These would be sold at exhibitions set up by the group and all proceeds would go towards housing and art supplies.

In the late 1960s Piza had begun experimenting assemblages and collage, incorporating glued fragments of paper, copper, and wood into watercolor paintings. He took up porcelain ceramics, designing works for the Sèvres factory, and worked in silversmithing and jewelry making, which he considered a natural progressing from the work he did on the metal plate. He frequently talked about the blurred line between being an artist and an artisan, seeing them as one and the same. With regards to his printmaking, art critics would refer to him not as a printmaker but as a "sculptor of plates". 

In 1986 the French Cultural Center of Damascus, Syria, commissioned a three-dimensional panel from Piza, and in 1996, he participated in an exhibition with Hugh Weiss at the Gallery Fine Arts in Tokyo, Japan. After 2000, two major retrospectives of his work were organized in Brazil in São Paulo and Porto Alegre. He died on May 26, 2017 in Paris.

His works are preserved in many museums around the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Art Institute of Chicago; the National Library of France, the Georges Center- Pompidou, and the Museum of Modern Art, Paris. His works can also be found in Brazil, the United States, Italy, Austria, Germany, India, and Poland.

A complete list of his exhibitions can be found on his estate's website, here