Iole de Freitas was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. At the age of 4, her family moved to Rio de Janeiro. As a child and young adult, Iole studied classical ballet and modern dance. Her early involvement with dance, the body and movement was to become an integral part of her artistic practice.
Moving to Milan, Italy in 1970, Iole shifted her concentration to the visual arts and she began experimenting with photography, film, installation and performance. Her efforts paid off and soon her work became linked with the body art, feminist and arte povera movements in Europe. Throughout the 1970’s, Iole exhibited in Italy, Austria, France and elsewhere. Lucy Lippard, among others, wrote about Iole’s work.
At the end of the 1970’s, Iole moved back to Rio de Janeiro. Her work began to change and a new interest in sculpture and site specific installation emerged. Rather than the body itself, Iole found that gesture, gravity, mass and lightness became predominant issues in her artistic output. She started experimenting with industrial materials, including copper, aluminum, mesh, thread and wire, creating large masses of woven or folded materials.
From the 1980's through the present, she has exhibited in numerous group shows, biennials, and museum exhibitions, as well as had exstensive solo exhibitions including Galeria Arco (São Paulo, Brazil), Palazzo dei Priori's Spazio Multimediale (Volterra, Italy), Galeria Paulo Klabin (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul - MARGS, Gabinete de Arte Raquel Arnaud (São Paulo, Brazil), Paco Imperial (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Galeria Anna Niemeyer (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana in the Instituto de Artes Visuais do Rio Grande do Sul's Contemporary Brazilian Art Cycle (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Casa da Imagem (Curitiba, Brazil), the Museum Nacional de Belas Artes (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), the Museu de Arte Moderna de Sao Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil), Galeria Marcus Vieira (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), the Museum Vale do Rio Doce (Vitória), and the Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). During this time she also taught and lectured in many countries, as well as received a Fulbright-Capes grant to do research at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Vitae arts grant to produce six large scale sculptures which are later exhibited at the Paco Imperial in Rio.
Beginning in 1991, Iole de Freitas has received many public and private commissions, and developed sculptural installations for specific sites such as the Morumbi Chapel in São Paulo, the Galpão Embra in Belo Horizonte, the Banco do Brasil in São Paulo, the Casa de Cultura Mário Quintana, the Museu do Açude, Salvador's Pestana Bahia Hotel, and the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, among others.