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Arpad Szenes was born in Budapest, Hungary on May 6, 1897. In 1929 he entered the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris where he studied with Andre Lhote, Fernand Leger and Roger Bissiere. During the following decade both he and his new wife, Lisbon born artist Vieira da Silva, experimented with Cubism and Surrealism in their work.

Szenes exhibited at the Salon des Surindependants throughout the 1930s and during this time his work became increasingly abstract. He studied with Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris in the 1930s, and had shows at Galerie Jeanne Bucher in Paris. At the onset of WWII Szenes, who was Jewish, left for Portugal with Silva; not welcomed there, they left for Rio de Janeiro.

In 1946 the couple returned to Paris and became French citizens. Szenes lived and worked in Paris until his death on January 16, 1985. Arpad Szenes's work was represented in the important 1944 exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York titled Hayter and Studio 17 which included 60 prints by 32 artists from 12 nations.

The Arpad Szenes-Vieira da Silva Foundation is a museum and foundation in Lisbon dedicated to the life and work of the two artists.