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Modernist Paintings Damaged In The Brazil Presidential Palace Riots

Brazil has shared the list of paintings that were damaged when protestors stormed government buildings on January 1.

For background, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva won the Brazilian presidential elections last year, defeating incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro. Since then, Bolsonaro – who had fled the country – had been calling the elections fraudulent and the results fake. On January 1, as Lula took oath as the next president of Brazil, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters took to the streets of the country.

A chaotic scene ensued in which protesters descended on the Palacío do Planalto (where Brazil’s President works), the National Congress, and the Supreme Court. The government is still assessing the damage done to the artworks. While most of these could be restored, a clock by Balthazar Martinot that had been given by France to King Dom Joao IV during the 17th century has been permanently destroyed.

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Other artworks are believed to have weathered significant distress. Mulatas (1962), a painting of a group of women lounging on a seaside balcony by Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, a leading Brazilian modernist, was punctured a couple of times. The painting, which is held at the Palacío do Planalto, is worth at least $1.5 million, according to the Brazilian government. Also at the Palacío do Planalto, Jorge Eduardo’s Bandeira do Brasil (1995), a painting of the Brazilian flag hanging above the building, was “found floating on the water that flooded the entire floor after vandals opened the fire hydrants installed there,” according to the Brazilian government’s announcement. Meanwhile, sculptures by Bruno Giorgi and Frans Krajcberg were partly broken, a Marta Minujín sculpture was thrown, and the glass of a Sérgio Rodrigues table was damaged.