The War and Peace Project


… The most important monumental work of art donated to the UN.

Dag Hammarskjold, UN Secretary-General, 1957

At the request of the Brazilian government, the United Nations (UN) entrusted custody of the War and Peace panels to the Portinari Project until August 2014. Between 1952 and 1956, Candido Portinari completed his last two and most imposing murals, War and Peace (approximately 14m high by 10m wide), commissioned by the Brazilian government as a gift to the UN headquarters in New York.

These monumental panels were installed in a noble place, with restricted access to the delegates of the Nations, in the entrance hall of the General Assembly. Unfortunately, for security reasons, they are not visible to the public, not even during UN guided tours. Eager to exhibit War and Peace to the general public, the Portinari Project saw the opportunity in 2007, when an extensive renovation of the UN headquarters building was announced, scheduled to take place between 2010 and 2014.

The result of more than three years of effort and collaboration between the Portinari Project, the Federal Government, international institutions and state and private companies, the 'War and Peace Project' was finally realized with the financial support of the BNDES. In December 2010, the panels returned to Brazil and were celebrated with an exhibition at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro, attracting more than 44,000 visitors in just 12 days.

The panels were later restored in an open studio at the Gustavo Capanema Palace, the headquarters of the Ministry of Culture in Rio de Janeiro, receiving more than six thousand visitors in four months. In February 2012, the Portinari Project held the exhibition 'War and Peace, by Portinari' at the Memorial da América Latina in São Paulo, exhibiting not only the restored panels, but also almost a hundred of Portinari's preparatory studies for War and Peace, a world premiere.

The exhibition was a success, extended until May and bringing together almost 200,000 people in 90 days open to the public, making it the first blockbuster exhibition by a Brazilian artist. From October 2012 to January 2013, the exhibition 'War and Peace, by Portinari [studies]' was presented in Fortaleza, at the Unifor Cultural Center, in partnership with the Edson Queiroz Foundation.

In October 2013, the exhibition was taken to Belo Horizonte, marking the reopening of the former Cine Theatro Brasil, which had been closed to the public for 14 years. The Educational Program coordinated guided tours for school groups, serving more than 11,000 children, young people and adults during the 40 days of the exhibition, which received more than 80,000 visitors. The project received crucial support from various companies and institutions, including BNDES, BFRE, O Boticário, Banco do Brasil, Correios, Queiroz Galvão Exploração e Produção, Redecard, UN, Ministry of Culture, Itamaraty, Funarte, Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, PUC-Rio, Rede Globo, InfoGlobo and Galeria Dom Quixote.

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