Trading Million Dollar Paintings for Brazilian Painters

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More often than not, our lessons, galleries and dining rooms are filled with the European painters, however, there is a delicious boldness in the geometric shapes, vivacious colors and campaigns behind Brazilian painters’ work. Now a story has emerged involving a painting trade-off at rio’s MAM that might just be the final push to inspire the art world into contemplating the wonders of less-known Brazilian painters.

Trading Million Dollar Paintings for Brazilian Painters

There are two types of people in this world: those that would sell their grandmother-in-law’s paintings as soon as they show a glint of value; and those who treasure the fugliest of ornaments passed down by a distant relative.

I’m afraid I fit into the former category. No sentiments here, which is clearly the exact sentiment emitted by the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro.

Last week the MAM hit headlines because it has jumped at the chance to shift a multimillion dollar painting, under the visage that it is not Brazilian heritage. Clearly, Brazil is a badass nationalist, and most importantly he doesn’t need our first world aristocracy.

The painting in question is a James Pollack, named imaginatively… No.16 and will shortly be winging its way to auction. Most likely, it will be snatched up in a heartbeat by the one of the God Father art museums.

Donated by former US vice president Nelson Rockefeller, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro shows no qualms that an American or European museum will take care of the Pollack. In the meantime, the vast profits can be dedicated to protecting their own works from Brazilian Painters.

Besides that, the most intriguing element of the story lends to the curiosity of those mysterious Brazilian painters.

Who are the most renown Brazilian artists? Have you seen them? Do you in fact have a print you are not even aware of?

Let’s take a whizz through a rather subjective list of ten of the best and most influential Brazilian artists and what interesting things we should know about them.

Tarsila de Amaral's Abaporu at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires
Tarsila de Amaral’s Abaporu at the Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires

1. Tarsila do Amaral

Tarsila do Amaral’s art reaches out and slaps you in the face with strong images and feisty colors. It emanates the bold patterns and shapes I so often see on Brazilian’s clothes.

Striking yet so simple.

Amaral’s upbringing was on a rich coffee plantation, but like many Brazilian painters on this list she received education in Europe. Her painting “Antropofagia” is the most expensive in the history of Brazil and speaks volumes about the country’s discrimination left behind after slavery.

Bracher by Footloose Lemon Juice Brazilian Painters

2. The Bracher Family 

Carlos Bracher comes from a famous family of painters that live in a real life castle in Juiz de Fora.

The father was a German immigrant, who arrived and began to sell two products. Beer and handmade porcelain items. These porcelain products were painted by the family themselves and therefore, the children learnt how to paint from an early age. Though the shops may have closed, as well as the art school they founded, the children remain great Brazilian painters.

3.  Romero Britto

Romero Britto is a pop art painter, who has probably made an impression in your life at some point or another. His art is florescent, in your face and often makes appearances on ladies’ handbags, so he’s pretty difficult to miss.

In his fame he has luckily become a bit of an altruistic hero, dedicating money and paintings to children’s hospitals. As well as funding environmental projects for the protection of the Amazon rainforest.

Artist Romero Britto by dbking (David) on Flickr under Creative Commons Lience 2.0.
Artist Romero Britto by dbking (David) on Flickr under Creative Commons Lience 2.0.

4. Roberto Burle Marx 

Not strictly a Brazilian painter, Burle Marx actually specializes most famously in landscaping and botany. Favoring curving shapes, appearing like interlocking waves, his work in gardens and paintings are easy to spot.

Perhaps his most notable pieces could be the Aterro de Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro, which has a spectacle forward view to Sugarloaf Mountain. On top of this he designed most of the parks in the capital Brasília, in which his work goes hand in hand with that of the Architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Siron Franco by Footloose Lemon Juice in Brazilian Painters

5. Siron Franco 

Siron Franco’s art is often shocking, since he uses his art to campaign against human or environmental right violations.

One famous attribution belongs to the Goiania nuclear disaster. A tragedy little known outside Brazil itself. The history goes that a company dumped nuclear waste on the outskirts of a town in the state of Goias. Afterwards, local children unknowingly entered the site and finding the florescent material began playing with it. Then even carried pieces home to show it to their community. Some kept the nuclear material in their houses for years and it was far too late when the symptoms of radioactive exposure began to show.

Similarly, during the Rio + 20 conference on World Environmental Goals, Siron’s art was displayed renouncing the damage caused by a criminal fire that engulfed the Portuguese Cerrado, also located in his home state.

Siron is a great artist for you to contemplate the actions of humans and the consequences that outlive erroneous or negligent actions.

Francisco Galeno painting of skyscrapers from a private collection
Francisco Galeno painting of skyscrapers from a private collection

6. Francisco Galeno 

Galeno’s paintings are bright, geometric and abstract reproductions of city scenes. His paintings are a splash of vivacity in a room.

In Brasília Galeno painted the entire inside of a small church (Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima). The illustrations tell the story of the appearance of the Saint Fátima in Portugal, the story which gives the church its name.

7. Archangelo Ianelli

Ianelli is a multiaward winning Brazilian artist. His art is deemed technically impressive in its use of color. He fits into the kind of abstract artists that paint shapes with intricate details of lighting. If you like that kind of thing, Ianelli is your man, but watch out his painting of a box will cost more than your house.

Candido Portinari, Peace, 1952-1956 UN Headquarters - Brazilian Painters
Candido Portinari, Peace, 1952-1956 UN Headquarters

8. Candido Portinari

Portinari commissioned a piece of artwork for the United Nation’s headquarters, said to represent the alignment of countries that takes place within he organization. Portinari also used toxic substances in his paint something which despite fervent warnings, eventually led to his death in 1962.  Cause of death was indeed lead poisoning.

For a fascinating more detailed overview of Candido Portinari read Andrea Fernandes’ journalistic entrance.

Candido Portinari, War, 1952-1956 UN Headquarters - Brazilian Painters
Candido Portinari, War, 1952-1956 UN Headquarters

9. Alberto da Veiga Guignard

Talk about a traumatic life, Alberto da Veiga Guignard had it all.

Born with a cleft lip, followed by his dad’s suicide, left by his new wife on his honeymoon and completely broke for most of his life. He dedicated his time focusing instead on his artwork and created a masterpiece that fetched 5.3 million at auction.

10. Alfredo Volpi

Volpi enjoys painting flags. If he were British, I believe he would be a bunting fan and adorn his house as if it were a street party. These Brazilian flags actually stem from an extremely interesting harvest festival called Juninos. I’m a juninas fan because they hand at a sweet honey wine heated up to fend of those chilly winter evenings. Celebrated in the countryside they are introsically linked to Catholic Saints of the harvest.

Take a look below for Brazilian bunting, unlike the Brits, they ooze cool just like the Brazilians themselves.

Flags, colors and folk by Dan Queiroz at Flickr under Creative Commons License 2.0.
Flags, colors and folk by Dan Queiroz at Flickr under Creative Commons License 2.0.

Changing Cultural Stereotypes

As a final thought, perhaps we can sum up the courage to pardon the MAM museum for shunning non-Brazilian artwork, since the country is bursting at the seems with native Brazilian greats.

Indeed the Brazilian art scene stretches from countryside scenery, pop art, geometric shapes, to masterpiece brown boxes, and it can truthfully cater for any taste.

In conclusion, delving a little into the history through Brazilian art may just alter the stereotypical views of Brazil’s culture.

Thus, encouraging an understanding that Brazil is much more than tiny bikinis and samba drums.


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