Portinari - the everlasting draughtsman

Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

A Collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro

Estudo para o painel de azulejos "São Francisco de Assis" : mão, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
The exhibition "Portinari – the everlasting draughtsman" – A Collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro, organised in partnership with the Brazilian Embassy in Rome, and on display in the Candido Portinari Gallery in the Pamphilj Palace, celebrates a very significant period of the museum's history. Curated by the art historians of the National Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition takes its cue from the painting "Coffee one of the highest examples of modern Brazilian art, as an introduction to Portinari, an exceptional draughtsman, a natural talent, whose formally innovative works have become timeless. The "War and Peace" panels commissioned for the United Nations building in New York gave Portinari his international credentials, granting his artwork a place of great distinction within 20th century artistic production. The collection of Portinari's Works in the MNBA collection enable us to recognize the Italian inspiration behind many of his works and provide us with insight into the subtle emotional ties between the two countries. Built up over time and under different circumstances, the collection is one of the most important in our institution and in the whole of Brazil.
Estudo para painel de azulejos São Francisco de Assis: mão, Candido Portinari, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Candido Portinari (1903-1962)

The son of Italian immigrants he soon displayed his artistic vocation when as a child, while all the other kids were out playing, he would lend a hand at decorating the church of the town where he was born, the small village of Brodowski, in the State of São Paulo. In 1918 he moved to Rio de Janeiro and the following year successfully applied to the National School of Fine Arts where he studied painting and drawing with Brazilian artists of the time such as Lucilio Albuquerque and Baptista da Costa. In 1928 he was given the chance to travel abroad thanks to a grant awarded him by the National Fine Arts Fair for his painting "Portrait of Olegário Mariano”. For two years he traveled through a number of European countries, saw masterpieces by Giotto (c.a 1266-1337) and the works of Renaissance Master Piero della Francesca (ca. 14 15-1492), met with the great masters on the European scene of the time such as Henri Matisse (1869-1954), Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Giorgio De Chirico (1888-1978) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973).

Estudo para o painel de azulejos "São Francisco de Assis" : mão, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

In 1931 he returned to Brazil. The sculptural quality of his work gradually superseded his academic influences. His experiments in painting, though inspired by modern artists and movements such as Cubism and Surrealism, always hinged around a thoroughly Brazilian conception of art. Since then, he works have undergone a change in chromatic approach, with his palette shifting towards darker and more earthy hues, featuring themes ranging from childhood memories to poverty and the Brazilian people.

Retrato de Colega da Escola, Candido Portinari, 1920, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Retrato de Olegário Mariano, Candido Portinari, 1931, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Retrato de Lélio Landucci, Candido Portinari, 1932, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Café, Candido Portinari, 1935, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Café, Candido Portinari, 1935, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

In 1935 his painting "Coffee", was awarded a prize by the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, USA, and Portinari became the first Brazilian modernist painter to be recognized abroad.

Café, Candido Portinari, 1935, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para a pintura mural "Gado", da Série Ciclos Econômicos [Palácio Gustavo Capanema, Rio de Janeiro, RJ]: chapéu e paletó, Candido Portinari, 1938, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

In 1936, following an invitation by Brazilian Education Minister Rodrigo de Melo Franco, he started working on a series of mural panels that illustrate the Brazilian economic cycles, to be installed in the palace of the Ministry for Education and Culture of Brazil.

Estudo para a pintura mural "Gado", da Série Ciclos Econômicos [Palácio Gustavo Capanema, Rio de Janeiro, RJ]: chapéu e paletó, Candido Portinari, 1938, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Besides the panels, the artist also designed a tile project for the courtyard of the same building, combining Brazilian motifs with others tied to the country's Portuguese heritage.

Study for the "Garimpo" mural painting from "Ciclos Econômicos" series, Candido Portinari, 1937, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para a pintura mural "Garimpo", da série "Ciclos Econômicos": mão, Candido Portinari, 1937, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para uma das pinturas murais, da Série Ciclos Econômicos [Palácio Gustavo Capanema, Rio de Janeiro, RJ]: Cabaça, Candido Portinari, 1938, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para uma das pinturas murais, da Série Ciclos Econômicos: [Palácio Gustavo Capanema, Rio de Janeiro, RJ]: chapéu de palha, Candido Portinari, 1938, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para o painel de azulejos "São Francisco de Assis" : mão, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Another work of great importance and beauty was the ceramic tile panel of the Capela da Pampulha facade, in Belo Horizonte (1944).

Study for the "São Francisco de Assis" tile panel, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Study for the "São Francisco de Assis" tile panel, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Esboço para o painel de azulejos "São Francisco de Assis" : pé, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Esboço para o painel de azulejos "São Francisco de Assis" : pé, Candido Portinari, 1944, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Study for the "Guerra" panel, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

During the Fifties, the Brazilian government suggested Portinari to the Secretary General of the United Nations for the creation of the two large panels entitled "War and Peace" to be installed in the organisation's headquarters in New York. Portinari was awarded the "Guggenheim Prize" for these works and thus became one of the most important Brazilian artists in the country's history.

Study for the "Guerra" panel, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para o painel "Guerra": feras, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Study for the "Paz" panel, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para ilustração do livro "Memórias póstumas de Brás Cubas", de Machado de Assis: Menino na garupa de um homem, Candido Portinari, 1943, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Besides his monumental works and his paintings, Portinari, like many modern artists, was called on by intellectuals, publishers and writers to illustrate certain specific publications such as the "Posthumous memories of Brás Cubas" and "The Alienist" by Machado de Assis (1839-1908),

Esboço para a ilustração do livro "Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas", de Machado de Assis: Almocreve, Candido Portinari, 1943, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Estudo para a ilustração do livro "Memórias Póstumas de Brás Cubas", de Machado de Assis : Tio João, Candido Portinari, 1943, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Portrait of Baptista Portinari, artist's father, Candido Portinari, 1941, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

His extensive artistic production has ensured that his fame has known no geographical or geopolitical boundaries, partly thanks to the many invitations he received from cultural and religious institutions abroad. Portinari's works speak of man to his fellow men, thus transforming his own artistic form of expression into a universal language.

Estudo para "Retrato de Thais de Mello Lima", Candido Portinari, 1956/1959, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Retrato de Darclée Gama Rodrigues, Candido Portinari, 1959, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Brodósqui, Candido Portinari, 1948, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Poisoned by the lead in the pigments he used in his paintings, Candido Portinari died on February 6 1962 in Rio de Janeiro, leaving behind him an extensive body of artistic works that in addition to being modern are also very distinctly Brazilian.

Brodósqui, Candido Portinari, 1948, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Cana-de-açúcar, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Portinari was not interested in portraying Brazil's provincial essence, nor an idealized Brazil. Portinari was instead primarily engaged in revealing the human side of his country's population.

Cana-de-açúcar, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Cana-de-açúcar, Candido Portinari, 1955, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Study for the Industrialização do Brasil panel, Candido Portinari, 1960, From the collection of: Museu Nacional de Belas Artes
Credits: Story

Portinari, Mão Infinita
Coleção Museu Nacional de Belas Artes

Exposição realizada nn Palácio Pamphilj, Embaixada do Brasil, em Roma, em 2017

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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