Brazil - 1917 - 1984
Maria Leontina Mendes Franco da Costa was a Brazilian artist born in São Paulo in 1917. She begins studying art in the late 1930s and early 1940s with Antônio Covello and Waldemar da Costa. In 1946 she attends Bruno Giorgi’s atelier and studies museology at the Museu Histórico Nacional from 1946 to 1948. In 1947 she participated in the 19 Pintores exhibit at the Galeria Prestes Maia in São Paulo.
In 1951 she is invited by psychiatrist and art critic Osório César to help in the art section of the Hospital Psiquiátrico do Juqueri. In the same year, she organized an exhibit at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP). In 1952, with a scholarship from the French government, Leontina travels to Europe with her husband, artist Milton da Costa. In Paris from 1952 to 1954, she studies with Johnny Friedlander in his atelier.
In the 1960s, Leontina completes tile work for the iconic Edifício Copan and the Igreja Episcopal Brasileira da Santíssima Trindade, both in São Paulo. Initially her work is considered a blend of figuratism and expressionism, but it is later simply referred to abstract, without the rigor of pure geometry.
In New York during the year 1960, Leontina received a national award from the Guggenheim Foundation, in 1975 she receives the Prêmio Pintura prize from the Associação Paulista de Crítico de Artes (APCA).