The Artsy Vanguard 2020: Anna Bella Geiger

Alina Cohen
Sep 11, 2020 8:00PM

Anna Bella Geiger

B. 1933, Rio de Janeiro. Lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.


Since the 1950s, Anna Bella Geiger has integrated maps and elements of natural history into much of her videos, collages, paintings, sculptures, and prints. In such works, she reconsiders notions of territory and identity, particularly in her native Brazil. Geiger’s 2018 installation for Rio de Janeiro’s Solar dos Abacaxis, for example, resembled a series of museum dioramas of pyramids, Babylonian gardens, and an Israeli mikvah (a ritual bath). Over the past few years, Geiger has made distorted maps of the globe and various countries from embroidery, wax-filled filing cabinets, and copper plate engravings. Such work questions the geographical structures and systems that we take for granted.

The mainstream commercial art world has only recently caught on to Geiger’s conceptual practice. Henrique Faria began showing her work in 2012 and in the years that followed, Mendes Wood DM began working with the artist; the former was the first gallery to represent the artist since the 1960s. In 2018, Geiger received solo institutional shows on three continents: New York’s Wallach Art Gallery, Warsaw’s National Gallery of Art, and Buenos Aires’s MUNTREF all fêted the artist with long-deserved attention.

This year, Geiger is featured in solo shows at Luma Arles in France and the S.M.A.K. Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent, Belgium. The latter show—previously shown at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo—is a major presentation titled “Brasil nativo/Brasil alienígena” (meaning “Native Brazil / Alien Brazil”), which amplifies Geiger’s ideas about borders and belonging. In 2021, she will have a solo show with her New York gallery, Henrique Faria.

The Artsy Vanguard 2020

The Artsy Vanguard 2020 is our annual list of the most promising artists shaping the future of contemporary art. This year, artists are organized into two categories: Newly Emerging, which presents artists who’ve gained momentum in the past year, showing at leading institutions and galleries; and Getting Their Due, which identifies artists who have persevered for decades, yet only recently received the spotlight they deserve. Now in its third edition, the feature was developed by the Artsy staff, in collaboration with our network of international curators and art professionals. Explore more of The Artsy Vanguard 2020.

Alina Cohen

Header and thumbnail image, from left to right: Anna Bella Geiger, “Sobre Nácar,” 2003; Anna Bella Geiger, “Figados conversando,” 1968; Portrait of Anna Bella Geiger by Diana Tamane, 2016. Courtesy of Henrique Faria Fine Art; Anna Bella Geiger,“Orbis Descriptio - El Mundo Hoy,” 1995–2018. All artwork images courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, and New York.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the order of Geiger’s gallery representation.