Maria Martins was known internationally as the “sculptor of the tropics.” She was born in 1894, in a small Brazilian province called Minas Gerais. In 1926 she married a diplomat—her second husband—and in 1939 he became Brazil’s ambassador to the U.S., which meant a move to the United States. Martins was in her 40s when she surfaced on the New York art scene, and in her first solo exhibition, in 1943, she showed sculptures of mythological creatures from the Amazon. America’s avant-garde took note. In 1946, she became Marcel Duchamp’s lover—it was a tumultuous and notorious affair. Martins’s art never abandoned its fierce surrealism, its themes of eroticism and desire. Almost 50 years after her death in 1973, this exhibition of 45 works from the 1940s and 50s, including sculptures and prints, is the largest Martins retrospective thus far. —E.C.
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