"Lina Bardi, only today I have been able to visit your museum. It's very beautiful. The best and most beautiful museum I know." Oscar Niemeyer’s letter to Lina, which reminds us that the most renowned Brazilian architect was actually exiled from his own country between 1967 and 1980, was written after he visited MASP for the first time on October 16, 1987, actually nineteen years after the museum opening. Intriguingly enough, this brief letter is a part of a kind of pop-up exhibition at the Instituto Bardi-Casa de Vidro to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the museum. Jointly with the exhibition, a seminar involving several international Lina scholars—including Zeuler R. Lima, Olivia de Oliveira, Barry Bergdoll, and others—as well as Lina’s former collaborators Marcelo Ferraz and Marcelo Suzuki, has been organized by MASP. A holistic outcome of the joint work by architect Lina Bo with her husband, director Pietro Bardi—whom the historiographical recovery is urgent by now on, after the international success finally achieved by sometimes even mythologized Lina—MASP is a masterpiece developed through a series of experimental articulations, starting from the so-called MASP Sete de Abril, installed by Bo & Bardi since 1947 in the Diários Associados newspaper headquarter. Among MASP references, it is worth mentioning the Museums without limits conceptual framework by Pietro (1946), later continued by Lina in 1951. Officially begun in 1957, the MASP project waved up and down through phases across a series of significantly exciting side-works carried on between 1959 to 1964, when Lina met Afro-Brasil in Salvador de Bahia, to finally develop a pioneering research beyond Eurocentric Modernism. Sponsored by media tycoon Assis Chateaubriand, MASP was conceived to be the most important art museum—for Art to mean Western Art—in Latin America. Within a military-run Brazil, MASP opened on November 7, 1968, by the hands of the greatest heir of colonialism, H.M. Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain, on the occasion of her official visit to Brasil; this happened in the closest eminence of the dictatorship, for the AI-5 (Institutional Act no.5) issuing several human rights restrictions dating December 13, 1968. Today one can still perceive the strong contrast between the suspended box along the Paulista Avenue—unanimously recognized as an International Modernist legacy—and the immersive interior landscape, for the glass easels' groundbreaking display to mix artworks and visitors into an innovative “democratic” environment. This latter may even evoke the “un-linear timeline” of which Lina wrote, arguably a critical link with artworks belonging to the other side of the Ocean. The remarkable visual connection between the inner museum display and the city outside is one more of Lina’s valuable contributions to shift from the modernist “white box” museum that was starting to be code-designed at that time, and to a new site-specific perspective. Technically, thanks to the collaboration of engineer José Carlos Figueiredo Ferraz, MASP consists of a prestressed (reinforced) concrete structure—as for instance in the Morandi Bridge of Genoa (Italy) but, unlike that, today carefully monitored thanks to the "Keeping It Modern" project granted by Getty Foundation. It is reasonably no coincidence that—behind the title borrowed from a famous song by Gilberto Gil—the exhibition "Infinito vão [Infinite Span] - 90 years of architecture in Brazil" presently at Casa dell'Architettura of Matosinhos in Portugal, today recognizes the MASP public space with a 70-meter span invented by migrants couple Bo & Bardi as a crucial issue belonging to Brazilian architecture DNA. While a new book—actually authored by Daniele Pisani—is announced to unveil some new issues about MASP, it is time to see whether the hope for Brazilian museums to become centers for the promotion of democratic values—according to a written side-thought by curator Fernanda Brenner after visiting a MASP exhibition—will turn real after recent elections brought one more far-right fellow to run the country in Brazil. MASP International Seminar conferences available online:
Posts tagged with "Lina Bo Bardi":
The following is a roundtable discussion among three Brazilian and Italian architects and scholars on the legacy of Lina Bo Bardi and the state of preservation of her works in Salvador de Bahia. Giacomo Pirazzoli: An architect and an immigrant, Lina Bo Bardi moved from Italy to Brazil in 1946 to start working in San Paulo. In 1959 she was invited to work in Salvador de Bahia, where she first became acquainted with Afro-Brazilian culture. Among the most relevant works she achieved while there, the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) at the Solar do Unhao—a former transfer point for sugar shipment—was re-designed in a few steps. Intriguingly enough, she declared “this is not a museum” since it had no collection; instead Lina thought it should have been “a center, a movement, a school," at least according to the research begun in 1946 by her husband and partner-in-crime Pietro Maria Bardi. Four years after the Centenário de Lina Bo Bardi (1914-2014): Tempos vivos de uma arquitetura exhibition in Salvador that focused on the conservation of Bo Bardi’s work, the windows at MAM toward the bay have been capped, invasive air conditioning ducts have been installed, and paintings are actually hanging on the walls as in a bourgeois living room, something Bo Bardi refused for years. How would you comment on all of this? Ana Carolina Bierrenbach: In 2015, together with Eduardo Rossetti (University of Brasília), I wrote an article for the architecture magazine RISCO, published on the occasion of the centenary of Lina Bo Bardi you mentioned. In that essay, we put forward some observations that I believe are still true today. We emphasized the fact that Lina finally got recognized in Brazil and abroad, sometimes reaching a level that we could define as idolatry, which we consider even excessive. Her works in São Paulo got appropriate care, as they have already had restoration, or soon they will have. Perhaps this concerns the role of architecture in São Paulo, which has a more widespread attention among local people, unlike what happens here in Salvador where perhaps people do not recognize how important architecture can be. Back to Bo Bardi’s buildings in Salvador. It seems to me that the situation is complicated at MAM; now it seems that the sculpture garden and the cinema are about to be reopened. A few days ago, we saw that the roof has been completely rebuilt, while the pier is in a very precarious state. Certainly MAM has for a long time had a crucial role for the city, but, unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be true any longer. Nivaldo Vieira de Andrade Junior: I agree that in São Paulo the work of Lina Bo Bardi is better preserved than in Salvador, perhaps because in São Paulo four of her buildings have been listed by IPHAN, the Brazilian institution that protects cultural heritage. One more proof of this better care for her work in São Paulo is the recent reconstruction of her original display at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), as well as the ongoing conservation projects both at MASP and at the Glass House, where the Bardi couple used to live and is today the headquarters of the Instituto Bardi-Casa de Vidro. It is also important to note that both conservation projects are under a particularly qualified supervision, being supported by the Getty Foundation under the Keeping It Modern program. Moreover, in Salvador, it is not just about the actually disruptive changes on Bo Bardi's display design at MAM that you previously mentioned. It is also worth noticing the largely oversized ducts of the air conditioning system actually installed within Gregorio de Mattos Theater, where a polycarbonate "box" with a metal structure at the upper floor leads to a full misperception of the helical concrete staircase, including its red central pillar. GP: Let’s go on to consider another case in Salvador, the 2014 intervention on the Casa do Benin, a peculiar culture-crossing bridge connecting Africa and Brazil. There, the woven straw with which Bo Bardi covered the columns has been eliminated. Also, galvanized open channels for lighting purpose have been added apparently at random, sharing nothing with the pre-existing red painted ducts. The exhibition curated by Pierre Verger and designed by Bo Bardi has also been altered to include works of dubious value. Finally, the large palms in the external area have been replaced with small potted ones. I believe that in various places on the planet, this supposed maintenance intervention would not be accepted, given the outcome. Of course I agree that these works need to be listed by IPHAN. In addition, I believe that in order to intervene on Lina's works, so rich in intercultural references, appropriate scientific support is needed, at least to provide research materials. In this sense both Docomomo and Instituto Bardi-Casa de Vidro should play a role, somehow consolidating the work of the Getty Foundation’s “Keeping It Modern" program. ACB: Actually, I believe these interventions demonstrate a lack of proper understanding of Lina's work. Her design choices, from the more specific ones, such as the superimposition of woven straw on the columns of the Casa do Benin, to other more generic ones, such as the use of the thin-armed mortar walls developed by the architect João Filgueiras Lima at Ladeira da Misericórdia, respond not only to aesthetic issues, but also to technical and strategic ones. They are linked to the knowledge that Bo Bardi had about the role that architecture can play both within the city and in citizens' lives. Unfortunately, this kind of knowledge was not considered for the interventions we have mentioned here in Salvador. I believe that there is a lack of delicacy in these interventions, that neither properly conserve the existing buildings nor propose quality insertions. Both issues are needed to keep the buildings alive, which was an essential matter for Bo Bardi. NVA: Yes, the intervention carried out by the Municipality of Salvador at the Casa do Benin is definitely arguable, but at least it allows tourists and natives to visit the Casa. However, Bo Bardi's works at the Ladeira da Misericordia complex are in a dire state. Restaurante do Coaty, arguably her masterpiece in Salvador, has been closed for several years and, as a result, it is deteriorating. Next door "ruin of the three arches," as Lina called it, has serious infiltration problems, while the other three properties are barely used. Access to the Ladeira has even been forbidden by the Municipality, which blocked it off with gates after having turned it the exit route for its adjacent offices. The last time when it was possible to visit those works without special permission was two years ago, thanks to an installation created by artist Joãozito. This also demonstrates the Municipality of Salvador's lack of recognition of Lina Bo Bardi, particularly when considering her own architecture from a worldwide perspective, despite the relevance of the Ladeira da Misericordia among the Italian-Brazilian architect's works. Giacomo Pirazzoli teaches architectural design at DiDA-Department of Architecture, University of Florence, Italy. He is a 2017–2019 CAPES recipient at FAU-UPM School of Architecture, Mackenzie University, San Paulo, Brazil. Ana Carolina Bierrenbach teaches architectural design at FAU-UFBA, School of Architecture, Bahia Federal University, Brazil. She is a member of DoCoMoMo-Bahia. Nivaldo Vieira de Andrade Junior teaches architectural design at FAU-UFBA, School of Architecture, Bahia Federal University, Brazil. He is the president of IAB-Brazilian Institute of Architects. The article is available in Italian in Il Giornale dell’Architettura.
Berlin-based Veronika Kellndorfer will be exhibiting Tropical Modernism: Lina Bo Bardi at the Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica through September 2 of this year. Showcasing Italian-born Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia in São Paulo, Kellndorfer's duotone works examine the dialogue between Bardi's Brutalist style and the vegetal context of her buildings. In 1958, while lecturing in Salvador, Bo Bardi defined architecture as “an adventure in which people are called to intimately participate as actors.” Bardi refrained from having an office during her career as an architect and her desire to mix Brazil's modernist architecture movement with a natural, but Brazilian, approach is reflected in Kellndorfer's work. “I wasn't born here,” Bo Bardi once said. “I chose to live in this place. That's why Brazil is my country twice over.” Using a process she honed in the 1990s, Kellndorfer silk-screens photographic images to highly reflective glass panels to merge hues and blur the distinction between image and form. Here, the translucency of her work lends itself to the modernist style of Bo Bardi's work while contrasting to the more sinister tones applied to the images. Further juxtaposition can also be also found in the arrangement of Kellndorfor's work. Placing natural against the Brutal(ist), Bo Bardi's laconic detail work is amplified through this medium yet distorted when used in conjunction with the glass. The exhibition also builds on Kellndorfer's solo exhibition last year which was held at the Casa de Vidro in São Paulo, a former residency of Bo Bardi. During this period, Kellndorfer was exposed to further realms of Brazilian modernism in the form of Oscar Niemeyer and the gardening work of Roberto Burle Marx who's work is currently on display at the Jewish Musuem.
Tribeca's R & Company gallery at 82 Franklin Street is highlighting two Brazilian greats: Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) and Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994). But act fast! Furniture by Bo Bardi and tapestries by Burle Marx are on display through the end of this week—the exhibit closes April 30. Lina Bo Bardi is best known for her monumental architecture, such as the sturdy São Paulo Museum of Art or the rugged SESC Pompéia in São Paulo. But her work in this exhibit, Lina Bo Bardi + Roberto Burle Marx, represents a much smaller scale. Furniture designed from the 1950s through the 1980s and executed in wood, metal, and leather show how her Brazilian modern thinking translated to the size of a chair. Designs dually showcase strong geometry and classic Brazilian curves that are a hallmark of her larger built work. In fact, a dining set on view in the exhibit was designed with Marcelo Ferraz and Marcelo Suzuki for the SESC Pompéia. Complementing Bo Bardi's furniture are textiles and totems by Roberto Burle Marx, generally regarded as the father of Brazilian landscape architecture. Playful patterns and geometric shapes are present in a variety of Burle Marx's larger projects such as the iconic Copacabana boardwalk, a modern interpretation of historic Portuguese paving designs; collaborations with Oscar Niemeyer in Brasilia; and private estates throughout the country. Zoom out on these landscape designs and you can see a clear connection between the large-format works and his smaller textiles and tapestries. In addition to landscape architecture, Burle Marx was a trained artist and sculptor with a keen interest in Brazilian folk art, themes that appear in his colorful wooden totems on display in this exhibit. Check out these works for yourself at R & Company in Tribeca through April 30.
Noted Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi now has a travel fellowship in her name. Jane Hall, founding member of Assemble, a Stratford, UK–based architecture and design collective, has been selected as the inaugural winner of the British Council’s Lina Bo Bardi Fellowship that will allow her to travel to Brazil this year to study Bo Bardi's work for six weeks this fall. Hall, an architectural assistant at Studio Weave, will investigate how society, culture, and the idea of "Brazilianess" influence the country’s contemporary architectural practices. The fellowship is part of the British Council’s Transform series—a sequence of arts programs between the United Kingdom and Brazil leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.