UN / PORTINARI MURAL

Preview Language:   Original
20-Nov-2010 00:08:36
Fifty-three years after their installation, Brazilian master Candido Portinari's two massive murals are temporarily removed as part of the UN headquarters' major renovation under the Capital Master Plan. Throughout the years, the murals, known as "War" and "Peace", have been the backdrop for countless official ceremonies at the organization. UNTV / ARCHIVE

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STORY: UN / PORTINARI MURAL
TRT: 8.36
SOURCE: UNTV / PORTINARI PROJECT
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / PORTUGUESE / NATS

DATELINE: 11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY / FILE

SHOTLIST:

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

1. Various shots, workers on scaffolding during the installation of the murals

FILE – 23 APRIL 2010, NEW YORK CITY

2. Various shots, Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon meeting UN Police Commissioners in front of Peace mural

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

3. Wide shot, UN officials in front of Peace mural

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

4. Tilt up, scaffolding in front of War mural
5. Med shot, João Candido Portinari in front of computer
6. Med shot, João Candido Portinari looking at mural
7. Close up, João Candido Portinari looking at mural
8. Zoom out, mural detail
9. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“In 1952 the Secretary-General of the United Nations asked all country members to present the United Nations with a work of art; a work of art which could be a testimony of their culture, of their art. Brazil chose Portinari, and he chose the theme War and Peace.”

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

10. Various shots, workers installing panels
11. Close up, mural detail

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

12. Tilt down, scaffolding in front of War mural
13. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“Before the panels were shipped to the UN there was a big outcry in Brazil so that they could be shown to the Brazilian public for the first and last time, because nobody would ever imagine that they would come back someday. So, this is an old dream that we’ve always had, to bring them back to Brazil and to show them to the public.”

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

14. Various shots, workers in front of mural

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

15. Zoom in, detail of War mural through scaffolding
16. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“Due to the size of these murals, it was hard for him to find a place to work, because we didn’t have an atelier, a big atelier like Calder, you know. So he worked in our apartment, in a small room. So, there was an old television studio that was given to him to make the panels, and they had to be made in pieces. So, every panel is composed of fourteen pieces in wood about five meters large and two meters high.”

FILE – PORTINARI PROJECT - UNDATED, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL

17. Med shot, Portinari painting mural

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

18. SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Claudio Valeira Texeira, Art Conservator:
“I saw the artist painting the panels when I was nine years old. I use to frequent the atelier and I saw the construction of the panels. Of course, it was an infant’s perspective, the vision of a child, but today I am a curator, I am an art conservator, and I look at the panels and how they were assembled. I have to say that these panels were very well installed in their time. The American team that installed them did it with great technical propriety. The panels are very well affixed, so much so that the removal was complex – I wouldn’t say difficult, but complex, it wasn’t easy - we suffered delays - but done with a lot of care. The panels came down perfectly well.”
19. Close up, mural detail, Portinari’s signature
20. Zoom out, mural detail, Pieta
21. Zoom out, mural detail, hyenas
22. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“In the War you see very deep blues and purples, you know, whereas in the Peace you see yellows, and light blues, and pinks, you know. In the Peace he inspired himself in The Eumenides, by Aeschylus, so he focuses on the simple joys of life, you know, children playing, animals, the work in the field, you know, girls dancing, you know. In the War, the inspiration was the Apocalypse, so you see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in a certain point.”
23. Pan right, mural detail

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

24. Various shots, mural details
25. Various shots, Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and other officials at mural unveiling ceremony

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

26. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“During his whole life he fought against violence, against injustice, through his painting and also through his political activity. So, he was faced with the biggest opportunity in his life to pass the message for peace and he decided to disobey the medical recommendations. He took the same paints and he painted these huge murals, and after that he was really ill, and a few years later he died.”
27. Zoom in, João Candido Portinari looking at mural behind scaffolding
28. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“We have planned to do a restoration with an open atelier. So we will be receiving schools and children to see how they are going to be restored.”

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

29. Various shots, workers installing murals

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

30. SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Claudio Valeira Texeira, Art Conservator:
“The panels were very well built. The artist used sheets of plywood which were very well put together, so much that when we removed them, after being there for fifty years, the experts who examined them, we confirmed the quality of the panels and the quality of their conservation.”

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

31. Various shots, workers installing murals

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

32. SOUNDBITE (English) Edison Motta Junior, Art Conservator:
“After the painting is cleaned from all the soot and dust that accumulated on the surface, we can filter the UV light that comes in through the window and we expect the process of deterioration not to occur any more, or at least to be significantly diminished.”

FILE – 1957, NEW YORK CITY

33. Various shots, mural details

11 NOVEMBER 2010, NEW YORK CITY

34. Zoom in, mural detail through mesh

35. SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“We have a very loved musician in Brazil, Milton Nascimento, and Milton Nascimento says the artist has to go where the people is. So, what we intend to do, with the panels, is to take them where they are most needed, you know, and to carry on with his message.”
36. Tilt up, mural covered with scaffolding

STORYLINE:

In 1957, fourteen meter scaffolds were erected inside the delegates’ entrance of the United Nations (UN) Headquarters' General Assembly building in order to install two massive murals by Brazilian master Candido Portinari.

The two murals, known as “War” and “Peace”, have been the backdrop for countless official ceremonies throughout the years. They depict Portinari’s vision of a troubled planet ravaged by wars and injustice, as well as his dreams of a better world. The murals are considered today as one of the most important works by the Brazilian artist as well as one of the most significant works of 20 th century Latin American Art.

Fifty-three years later, the scaffolding is up once again for the temporary removal of the panels, as part of the UN Headquarters’ major renovation under the Capital Master Plan.

João Candido Portinari, founder of the non-profit Portinari Project and son of the Brazilian master, noted that from the UN’s early years, Member States were asked to donate artworks to the organization.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“In 1952 the Secretary-General of the United Nations asked all country members to present the United Nations with a work of art; a work of art which could be a testimony of their culture, of their art. Brazil chose Portinari, and he chose the theme War and Peace.”

These artworks, many of them installed decades ago, have become a permanent feature and an unavoidable visual reference for visitors, diplomats and staffers at UN headquarters. They include a stained-glass window by Marc Chagall, the Golden Rule mosaic based on a painting by Norman Rockwell and a sculpture by Henry Moore, among other notable works.

Like the other works, Portinari’s murals will return to their original location upon completion of the headquarters renovation. Meanwhile, they will be restored and exhibited for the Brazilian public for the first time in over half a century.

They will be shown at the Municipal Theatre in Rio de Janeiro, exactly as it was done 53 years ago.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“Before the panels were shipped to the UN there was a big outcry in Brazil so that they could be shown to the Brazilian public for the first and last time, because nobody would ever imagine that they would come back someday. So, this is an old dream that we’ve always had, to bring them back to Brazil and to show them to the public.”

The enormous scale of the murals presented a series of challenges, both at their inception as during the process of installation and now their removal.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“Due to the size of these murals, it was hard for him to find a place to work, because we didn’t have an atelier, a big atelier like Calder, you know. So he worked in our apartment, in a small room. So, there was an old television studio that was given to him to make the panels, and they had to be made in pieces. So, every panel is composed of fourteen pieces in wood about five meters large and two meters high.”

Claudio Valeira Texeira was a child when he was taken to Portinari’s studio, witnessing the creation of the murals and leaving an indelible mark in his memory. Now a respected art conservator, he is part of the team responsible for the removal, restoration and reinstallation of the works.

SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Claudio Valeira Texeira, Art Conservator:
“I saw the artist painting the panels when I was nine years old. I use to frequent the atelier and I saw the construction of the panels. Of course, it was an infant’s perspective, the vision of a child, but today I am a curator, I am an art conservator, and I look at the panels and how they were assembled. I have to say that these panels were very well installed in their time. The American team that installed them did it with great technical propriety. The panels are very well affixed, so much so that the removal was complex – I wouldn’t say difficult, but complex, it wasn’t easy, we suffered delays - but done with a lot of care. The panels came down perfectly well.”

The War mural manifests Portinari’s vision of conflict as a curse on all mankind, showing menacing presence of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse; hyenas roaming a shattered wasteland and several depictions of the classic Pieta, sobbing mothers praying for their lost children.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“In the War you see very deep blues and purples, you know, whereas in the Peace you see yellows, and light blues, and pinks, you know. In the Peace he inspired himself in The Eumenides, by Aeschylus, so he focuses on the simple joys of life, you know, children playing, animals, the work in the field, you know, girls dancing, you know. In the War, the inspiration was the Apocalypse, so you see the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in a certain point.”

Portinari was a member of the Brazilian Communist Party and dedicated his life to fighting for a more just and fair society. Because of those political beliefs had he had to flee Brazil and took his family to Uruguay in exile for several years.

Those same political affiliations prevented him from getting a visa for the United States, and he was unable to attend the unveiling of the murals, which was attended by then Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Portinari returned to Brazil in 1951 but suffered ill health during the last decade of his life due to a process of poisoning by lead contained in the paints that he used.

His doctors forbade him from using lead based paint, but when he received the commission to paint the murals for the UN, he made a conscious decision to use those paints, regardless of the consequences.

He died of lead poisoning in Rio de Janeiro in 1962.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“During his whole life he fought against violence, against injustice, through his painting and also through his political activity. So, he was faced with the biggest opportunity in his life to pass the message for peace and he decided to disobey the medical recommendations. He took the same paints and he painted these huge murals, and after that he was really ill, and a few years later he died.”

Before they are exhibited in Rio the paintings will go through a process of restoration, which will be open to the public.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“We have planned to do a restoration with an open atelier. So we will be receiving schools and children to see how they are going to be restored.”

Valeira Texeira explained that the large panels that make up the murals were very well built and installed, and are in excellent condition considering that they have received little or no maintenance over the years.

SOUNDBITE (Portuguese) Claudio Valeira Texeira, Art Conservator:
“The panels were very well built. The artist used sheets of plywood which were very well put together, so much that when we removed them, after being there for fifty years, the experts who examined them, we confirmed the quality of the panels and the quality of their conservation.”

Edison Motta Junior, another member of the conservation team, noted that the worst damage was due to the fact that the murals are installed in front of large windows without protection from the light, which has caused some decolouration.

SOUNDBITE (English) Edison Motta Junior, Art Conservator:
“After the painting is cleaned from all the soot and dust that accumulated on the surface, we can filter the UV light that comes in through the window and we expect the process of deterioration not to occur any more, or at least to be significantly diminished.”

Josalino Kubichek was the President of Brazil at the time the murals were completed and attended the unveiling in Rio de Janeiro. After they are restored and installed at the Municipal Theatre in Rio, they will be re-unveiled by current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

SOUNDBITE (English) João Candido Portinari, Founder of the Portinari Project:
“We have a very loved musician in Brazil, Milton Nascimento, and Milton Nascimento says the artist has to go where the people is. So, what we intend to do, with the panels, is to take them where they are most needed, you know, and to carry on with his message.”
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Category
Geographic Subjects
Creator
 UNTV / ARCHIVE
Asset ID
U101120a