Casa das Histórias Paula Rego: art and architecture
It is impossible not to notice the two red-coloured, chimney-like towers when you wander the streets of Cascais. This unique building is the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, a museum that houses the work of Portuguese artist Paula Rego. A place definitely worth visiting for both the architecture and the art.
About Paula Rego
Dame Maria Paula Figueiroa Rego was born on the 26h of January 1935 in Lisbon. When her father was stationed in the United Kingdom for work, she was left with her grandmother in Portugal. At age ten she was sent to an English-language school in Carcavelos. Six years later she left Portugal and joined her parents in the United Kingdom.
In 1952 Paula Rego started studying at the Slade School of Fine Art. At this school she met her future husband Victor Willing, with whom she moved back to Portugal in 1957. They married and had three children.
The Carnation Revolution of 1974 caused for business problems and forced the family to move back to London. After some years, Paula Rego became a Visiting Lecturer in painting at her old school, Slade School of Fine Art. In 1988 the Serpentine Gallery in London housed her first major solo exhibition. The same year her husband Victor died of multiple sclerosis.
Paula Rego continued her work and was rewarded many prizes and honorary titles. In 2009 the Casa das Histórias Paula Rego opened its doors, showing both her work and that of here late husband, Victor Willing. Although many public institutions around the world own work by Paula Rego, this museum now offers a permanent opportunity to see this very important Portuguese artist.
The internationally renowned Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura designed the museum. Among his most famous works are the Braga Municipal Stadium, the Casa das Artes in Porto and the Trindade Metro station. It was Paula Rego herself who made the choice for this architect, giving him the task to make it “fun, lively and also a bit mischievous”. It resulted in a four wing building, with a central room giving access to connecting rooms. The areas of different heights and sizes count a total of 750m2 exhibition space.
The exterior of the museum is very notable thanks to the colour and the shape of its construction. You will spot the two pyramid-shaped towers from miles away. The pinkish red of the building makes it feel warm and welcoming. The museum is surrounded by a green garden, with trees that existed there previously.
Paula Rego is particularly known for her paintings and prints based on storybooks. Her work often reflects feminism, coloured by folk-themes from Portugal. She uses fairy tales to reveal and, above all, deconstruct established models of socialization and, more specifically, the roles that society assigned to women in her epoch.
The collection consists of 22 paintings, 273 drawings and 257 etchings, produced by the artist on a variety of media and using a wide range of techniques. It covers a period of roughly 50 years in her career. Most of the 22 paintings are works from the 1980s, like the Operas series, Vivian Girls and In and Out of the Sea. But there are also some of her emblematic pieces from the 1960s (Always at Your Excellency’s Service, When We Had a House in the Country and Centaur) and the 1990s (Angel, Love and The Company of Women).
Victor Willing is represented by 15 oil paintings from the late 1950s (Precarious Drag), the 1970s (Place) and the last pieces of his career, dating from the second half of the 1980s (Failure and Ascot).
The Casa das Histórias Paula Rego is a museum in the centre of Cascais. This popular coastal town can be easily reached by train from Lisbon. By car it’s around 40 km from Portugal’s capital.
Find all the details you need for your visit on the museum’s website.