By Christian Franzen
Cândido Portinari was born in São Paulo, Brazil in December of 1903. His mother and father had immigrated from Veneto, Italy several years before their son was born. He studied art at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes (ENBA) in Rio de Janeiro. In 1928, Portinari was awarded a study abroad opportunity from the ENBA which enabled him to travel to Paris.
Portinari lived and studied in Paris for two years until returning home to Brazil in 1930. Once back in Brazil he became an active member in the emerging communist party. In 1947 he ran for Senator, but was forced to leave Brazil because of the persecution of Communists that was beginning to take affect in the Brazilian Government. He was able to safely return to Brazil in 1951, but was confronted with serious personal health problems. Portinari died in Rio de Janeiro in 1962 from lead poisoning which he had contracted from his paints.
Portinari became one of the most well known Latin American painters through his rigorous work ethic and the tremendous amount of work he was able to create in his lifetime. He is associated with being an influential character in the neo-realism movement that took place throughout Latin America. His work can be seen in museums and galleries all over the world. Here in the USA Portinari has pieces in the United Nations building in New York and Library of Congress in Washington DC!