Portinari of Brazil: 80 years

Celebrating the 80th anniversary of Portinari's first international solo exhibition, opened at New York's Museum of Modern Art on October 9th, 1940.

By Projeto Portinari

Coffee (1935) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

In 1935, Portinari, then 32, presents his painting "Café", to compete for the prestigious "Carnegie Award"...

Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10)Projeto Portinari

...promoted by the Carnegie Foundation, in Pittsburgh, USA.

In the realm of art: the 1935 Carnegie International In the realm of art: the 1935 Carnegie International (1935-10-20)Projeto Portinari

The painting competed with 365 others from many countries.

A pintura latino-americana na exposição de 1935 no Instituto Carnegie de Pittsburgh A pintura latino-americana na exposição de 1935 no Instituto Carnegie de Pittsburgh (1936-01)Projeto Portinari

Portinari was unknown outside of Brazil and his single painting wins the "Second Honorable Mention", previously awarded the Salvador Dali.

This achievement rewards the young Brazilian painter with international recognition.

Exposição Portinari na Feira Mundial (1939-05) by Fred KreutzensteinProjeto Portinari

Four years later, at the Brazilian Pavilion at World Fair in New York, designed by Lucio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer, Portinari features three large screens, depicting the Northeast, South, and Midwest.

Gaúcha Scene, Candido Portinari, 1939, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Northeastern Rafts, Candido Portinari, 1939, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Midwest, Candido Portinari, 1939, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Exposição Portinari na Feira Mundial (1939-05) by F. S. LincolnProjeto Portinari

Exposição Portinari na Feira Mundial (1939-05) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

Letter Letter (1939-04-12) by Florence HornProjeto Portinari

In 1939, Portinari meets Florence Horn, American journalist from Fortune magazine, who becomes a great friend.

Florence Horn (1940)Projeto Portinari

He even invites her to visit Brodowski, to meet his family.

Letter Letter (1939-03-23) by Florence HornProjeto Portinari

Continuing a series of articles about South America, Florence was preparing a long article focusing on Brazil.

Portinari comes as "Good Neighbor" emissary Portinari comes as "Good Neighbor" emissary (1940-09-01)Projeto Portinari

These articles were part of a US approach to Latin America, in the spirit that guided the establishment of the "Good Neighbor Policy", established by Roosevelt, trying to replace the idea of ​​domination by reciprocity. To this end, it creates a broad cultural exchange program, whose mentor is Nelson Rockefeller.

Letter Letter (1939-03-23) by Florence HornProjeto Portinari

Alfred Barr, director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York - MoMA, sees the paintings and is immediately interested in including them at MoMA's next exhibition "Art in Our Time", a selection of the most important works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, coming from 37 countries.

At that time, three other paintings by Portinari were already in the United States to be be photographed to illustrate the Fortune magazine article.

"Portinari of Brazil" "Portinari of Brazil", 1940-10-30, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portinari of Brazil Portinari of Brazil, 1940-10-15, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Belo Horizonte e o "Galo" de Portinari Belo Horizonte e o "Galo" de Portinari, 1944-07-06, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Gaúcha Scene (1939) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Florence Horn writes Portinari: "We had three paintings in our Art Department, and by chance someone from the Museum of Modern Art came by and asked, 'Who painted these paintings? Mr. Barr have to see them.

Slum (1933) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Then, a few hours later, Mr. Barr comes, looks at the three paintings and the photos and says, "I want this one, of Rio, for the show" [...]

"Mr. Barr is the most important man in the American art world, and he is interested in your work, after seeing only three paintings. Therefore, I sincerely hope that you come to New York this summer. I should add that the influence of Fortune magazine on Mr. Barr would be useless. We showed works of numerous painters and the Museum has no specific interest in them [...] ... "

Letter Letter (1940-08-20) by Alfred H. Barr JuniorProjeto Portinari

On the same day, Florence Horn telegraphs Portinari saying, "The Museum of Modern Art wants to buy the 'Morro do Rio' painting. Please telegraph immediately the price and conditions for sale.." . The screen is included in the MoMA exhibition, making it "the only South American frame included in the show of the greatest painters of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." MoMA acquires the painting, which today integrates its permanent collection.

The wheel of fate was cast and Barr's "Coup de Foudre" for Portinari results in the invitation for a solo exhibition with the title "Portinari Of Brazil", showing Barr's intention to represent Portinari as "the" painter of Brazil.

Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

The show had extraordinary success, being visited by more than 2 thousand people at its opening on October 9th 1940.

Exposição Portinari no MoMA, 1940-10, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Exposição Portinari no MoMA, 1940-10, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Exposição Portinari no MoMA, 1940-10, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Exposição Portinari no MoMA, 1940-10, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portrait of Eva Rubinstein (1940) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Distinguished visitors included Arthur Rubinstein, the cosmetics queen Helena Rubinstein, Nelson Rockefeller's family, all then portrayed by Portinari.

Portrait of Arthur Rubinstein, Candido Portinari, 1940, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portrait of Helena Rubinstein, Candido Portinari, 1939, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portrait of Mary C. Rockefeller, Candido Portinari, 1941, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portrait of Mary Rockefeller, Candido Portinari, 1941, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Portrait of Abby Greene Rockefeller, Candido Portinari, 1942, From the collection of: Projeto Portinari
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Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

New York's art elite was present, as well as guests from other states: artists, intellectuals, politicians, businessmen, singers, actresses and artists from Hollywood, all dressed to their best attire, as can be seen from photographs of the time.

Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

Exposição Portinari no MoMA (1940-10) by Paul NonesProjeto Portinari

Embora em menores proporções que no ano passado, o Ibirapuera continua [...] a ser um centro de atrações Embora em menores proporções que no ano passado, o Ibirapuera continua [...] a ser um centro de atrações (1955-09-04)Projeto Portinari

This exhibition paved the way for at least two important events Portinari's career trend: i) the University of Chicago published the first book about him, with a foreword by the great North American artist Rockwell Kent, and ii) the invitation to paint four monumental frescoes for the library of Congress in Washington.

Brazil's greatest artist opens one-man show Brazil's greatest artist opens one-man show (1940-10-09)Projeto Portinari

Exposição coletiva no Carnegie Institute (1935-10)Projeto Portinari

Now, you can visit the exhibition here, as it was in 1940.

Still from 3D Model of "Portinari of Brazil"Projeto Portinari

Credits: Story

João Candido Portinari

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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