Portinari, Cândido

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Portinari, Cândido

(kän`dēthō pôrtēnä`rē), 1903–62, Brazilian painter. He studied at the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro. In 1928 a European fellowship enabled him to visit France, Italy, Spain, and England. Upon his return he broke with his earlier somewhat academic style to paint scenes of Brazilian life, characteristically soft brown in tonality with small figures schematically represented by flecks of color and play of light. His painting Coffee (1935; National Museum of Fine Arts, Rio de Janeiro) revealed an interest in the expression of plastic form that became a dominant factor in his subsequent works. Portinari turned (c.1940) to a more fluid and expressionistic style, touched with surrealism, as in the series of frescoes in the Hispanic Foundation, and the Library of Congress and in paintings such as the Scarecrow (Mus. of Modern Art, New York City). In 1955 he executed two large murals of War and Peace for the United Nations General Assembly Building, New York City.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Portinari, Cândido


Born Dec. 29, 1903, in Brodósqui, São Paulo; died Feb. 7, 1962, in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilian painter and graphic artist.

Portinari, the son of an Italian farmhand, attended the National School of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro from 1918 to 1928. He spent the following two years in Europe, where he came under the influence of expressionism, surrealism, and the work of Picasso. Beginning in the mid-1930’s, Portinari devoted himself to the realistic portrayal of the life of the common people— Indians, Negroes, farmhands, and the inhabitants of favelas (slums). He often endowed his figures with a lofty and heroic character. His works are marked by powerful generalized forms, soft chiaroscuro, and precise line. Portinari produced easel paintings (Coffee, 1935; Portrait of R. Rolland, 1936), cycles of paintings (Refugees, 1945), murals (at the Ministry of Education in Rio de Janeiro, 1936–45; at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., 1941; at a college in the city of Cataguases, 1948— 49), large panels (War and Peace, 1955, United Nations, New York), and numerous prints.

Portinari was a university professor in Rio de Janeiro from 1936 to 1939. He was awarded national prizes and the International Peace Prize (1950).


Luraghi, E. Disegni di Portinari. Turin, 1955.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.