Thursday, 23 August 2012

Maria Keil


Born in 1914, Maria Keil was a Portuguese artist who created a massive amount of work, and in particular a great number of tile patterns and murals in the city of Lisbon. I've seen examples of Keil's designs in various places, but it's her work for the Lisbon Metro system that stands out most for me. I first came across her name when researching a post about Parque Metro Station. Parque was one of the first Metro stations opened in Lisbon and the striking tiles in its lobby were designed by Keil.


As I later discovered, Keil is responsible for the tiles in all 20 of Lisbon's first Metro stations, opened between 1959 and 1972. Though most tiles are extant, some were unfortunately removed during  more recent renovations *shakes fist*. This I learned when I found a memory game/house of cards based on her Metro tiles in the A Vida Portuguesa shop in Chiado. Made by manamana, who have written a book and made a short film about Keil called Desvio/PadrĂ£o (Standard/Deviation), the set of cards features tiles from seven of Keil's station works. You can play two types of memory games with them or use them to build an Eames-style house of cards. Perhaps needless to say, I bought the cards as soon as I saw them. I don't own the book as of yet, but my birthday's in a month so we'll see if that can't be rectified...


Keil's work really is remarkable. I've spotted quite a few and will keep an eye out for others (you'll find whatever I find over on Tilewatch), but it's such a shame I wont be able to see all twenty designs she did for the Lisbon Metro. Poignantly, the summer I lived here in Lisbon and discovered her beautiful work is the summer she died, just shy of 98.