Maria Helena Vieira da Silva was born on June 13, 1908, Lisbon, Portugal.
She moved to Paris in 1928, where she lived most of her life, obtaining French nationality in 1956. In 1928, she joined the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. There she met her husband, the Hungarian painter Árpád Szenes.
A decisive moment for her career took place in 1932, when she met the gallerist Jeanne Bucher - whom later that year sold one of her works to the Museum of Modern Art in New York and organized her first solo exhibition at her gallery.
Due to the outbreak of the war, in 1939, Vieira and Árpád exchanged Paris for Lisbon, where they lived for one year, before embarking the following year to Brazil, where they lived until 1947.
Vieira da Silva saw her work recognized during her lifetime and is still today one of the most celebrated artists in post-war Europe. Her subtle abstract and geometric compositions full of poetry have been the object of several retrospectives - at the Kestner Gesellschaft, Hanover, in 1958; Museu Nacional de Arte Moderna, Paris, 1969-70; Museu de Arte Moderna da Cidade de Paris, in 1977; Museu Gulbenkian, Lisbon, in 1988, itinerant exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris; at the Juan March Foundation, Madrid, in 1991. In 1994, Skira published the catalogue raisonné and monograph of its work under the direction of Guy Weelen and Jean-François Jaeger.
Her works are part of numerous important collections around the world, including: New York Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
In 2020, Vieira da Silva was one of the artists selected by Richard Prince to be part of the first exhibition curated by artists at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, entitled Artistic License : Six Tales on the Guggenheim Collection.