Café - Candido Portinari

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Among MNBA’s treasures, one also finds, in a prominent place, the painting Café, the first work from Brazilian modernism to win a prize overseas, the Second Honorable Mention at the Carnegie Institute exhibition in Pittsburgh, United States, in 1935.

Café (1935) by Candido PortinariMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes

The painting Café, in MNBA’s collection, is the revelation of this innovative pictorial vocabulary, which stakes out not only the painter’s artistic individualization, but also the patenting of thematic, content, and formal originality of Brazilian painting.

This comprises a powerful orchestration of a hitherto-unheard New World symphony, where the labors of the coffee plantation is the scenario...

...in which laborious arms...

...raise sacks...

...and buckets...

...and in the bagging...

...of the red earth product,...

...dominating all spaces of the picture in dark chromatic variations, with a highlight on the luminosity of the clothes and bodies of the numerous group of white, black, and mestizo women and men.

The green color of the plantation rows on the painting’s upper part, is diagonally bordered of a true swarm of diligent coffee pickers.

As a symbol of the repressive power, there appears the gesticulation of the foreman, in boots with his revolver holster belt in his waist.

The composition is completed with a pile of coffee sacks, on the left, right above the figure of a peasant woman sitting on the ground,...

...suggesting a visual angle regarding the virtual bar made up of the brawny workers in the canvas foreground.

The peasant girl, with a delicate profile,...

...resting sitting on the ground, barefoot as the other workers in the canvas foreground...

...with her feet starting to deform...

...and a cloth tied around her head, as a bonnet...

...a short-sleeved blouse loose at her waist, and wide skirt, down to her ankles,...

...is an emblematic figure which even its roughness, lyrically infuses the entire painting.

Credits: Story

Café - Candido Portinari
Acervo Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Idealizada especialmente para o Google Art Project, 2019.

Texto de autoria de Israel Pedrosa in “Portinari: coleção Museu Nacional de Belas Artes” publicado pelo museu, em 2014

Credits: All media
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