Biography of Milton Dacosta (1915-1988)

Painter, designer and engraver Brazilian born in Niterói, in the State of Rio de Janeiro, in 1915 and died in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 1988. It is considered to be one of the most prominent in Brazilian modern painting of the generation that followed the Portinari. He won the prize to the best Brazilian painter in the third Bienal de São Paulo in 1955. The most important feature of his work was the strong influence he received from Cubism, although it also took stages of figurative art. His work always kept a unity of style. His real name was Milton Rodrigues da Costa.

He showed since his childhood a great attraction for the drawing, and any object within reach, like a box of shoes or pieces of paper, used to make his strokes. In 1929 he began studies of painting and design with the German Professor Augusto Hantz and, the following year, he enrolled in the free course that José Marques was jr. at the National School of fine arts. With 16 years he participated in the Foundation of the core Bernardelli, coordinated by Edson Motta. Belonged to the figures as José Pancetti and Bustamante Sa, Aldo Malagoli. This group of artists gathered all the nights at a local paint, without the presence of instructors; each one was carried away by the imagination and worked without preset techniques and methods.

DaCosta won the award of "travel abroad" of the modern section of the national Salon of fine arts in 1944. The following year he decided to go to United States, where he studied at the Artists League of America in New York. That same year he participated in the exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art in Buenos Aires and La Plata. In 1946 he settled in Paris, although he returned to Brazil in 1949. In the city of the Seine he attended the courses of the Academy of the Grande Chaumière; and in Lisbon presented their work in a group show. Already in his country, was married with the painter María Leontina in 1949. Marriage settled in São Paulo, but from 1973 they lived in Rio de Janeiro, where they remained together and shared the art world for 35 years, until her death in 1984.

Dacosta painting was gradually evolved and matured over the years. In his beginnings he was attracted by impressionism, then passing to Expressionism, but more for being current in their generation than by loyalty to their form of expression. In the background, the starting point of the painter was always abstract. In his work, especially the human figure, figure was geometrically stylized to the end. His painting was also influenced by Cubism, which developed an own style with simple and geometric forms called "lyrical Cubism". He painted portraits, urban themes linked to the society of consumption, human figures, especially women or girls, in groups or alone. In his paintings, a sober and elegant style, always dominates the way about the color. With his series of "Venus and birds", which began to paint during the 1960s, he returned to the figurative and configured a very personal repertoire, where mixed influences of Picasso, Brancusi and the Baroque.

From the 1950s he actively participated in important solo and group exhibitions, both in Brazil and abroad. His first individual exhibition took place in the former building of the Ministry of education in Rio de Janeiro in 1950, and the second was in São Paulo in 1956. He was present in several editions of the Bienal de São Paulo between 1951 and 1961; that same year had a special room in the exhibition of 20th-century Brazilian art: pathways and trends, organized in 1974 by Frederico Morais. He participated also in the São Paulo Hall of modern art, where he obtained the prize of the Government of the State and the Brazilian constructive art project in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Abroad, participated in the XXV Biennale of Venice in 1950; in the exhibition Brazilian artists in the may Salon in Paris in 1952; in the lounge of Lugano, Switzerland, in 1955; and he also took part in the IX Prize international of Lissone, Milan; and at the Guggenheim international award in New York in 1956 and 1957.

The exhibition was opened in April 1999 "Milton Dacosta & María Leontina: A dialogue", in the Bank of Brazil Cultural Center in Rio de Janeiro, where you could see the works of these two artists together in art and in life. His paintings are exhibited in the Museum of modern art of São Paulo, in the Museum of Rio de Janeiro and the Museo de La Plata in Argentina.


PICCOLI, Valeria: Art building not Brazil: Coleçao Adolph Leirner. Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1998.

PEDROSA, Mario: Milton Dacosta: twenty years of painting. São Paulo, 1981.

Sampaio, Ruy: Modern Brazilian painting, collection Roberto Marinho. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1987.

T. Bandres Sierra