Mira Schendel was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century in Latin America. Born in Zurich in 1919 to Jewish parents, she had a Catholic upbringing in Italy. Due to fascist persecution, she felt forced to break off her philosophy studies in 1938 and to leave the country and thus emigrated to Brazil via Yugoslavia, Switzerland and Austria, settling in Sao Paulo.
Language stands at the centre of her extraordinary, poetically reduced work, fed by a wealth of influences, with her Jewish and Catholic background playing a role just as much as elements from Western and Eastern philosophy, Zen Buddhism and Concrete Poetry. Schendel painted and drew in a wide variety of media and also worked sculpturally, with her work culminating in her monotypes on semi-transparent rice paper from the 1960s which are considered her most significant and independent works.