Lina Bo Bardi, the Italian-born, Brazilian modernist architect, has been referred to as “Brazil’s best-kept secret” and an “overlooked creative innovator.” Her trajectory toward international fame and critical acclaim has been ascendant since her death in 1992, and seems to have reached a peak. Bo Bardi figures large in the current MoMA exhibition Latin America in Construction: Architecture 1955-1980. Her designs are on view in an exhibition at R & Company. And next week, Lina Bo Bardi: Together opens at the Graham Foundation in Chicago.
Among the exhibition events at the Graham Foundation is a lecture on May 14th by Zeuler M. Lima, an architect and associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He is also the author of our 2013 book, Lina Bo Bardi. In a piece for The New York Review of Books, Martin Filler wrote about this publication, “His detailed but well-paced monograph is a feat of primary-source scholarship and thoughtful analysis. Lima does a masterful job of candidly assessing his brilliant, somewhat erratic, and not always truthful subject. This important contribution to the literature will long remain the essential Bo Bardi publication.”
In the preface, Lima writes, “Bo Bardi often spent long hours reflecting, talking, and making notes before she produced colorful hand drawings, her most intimate and powerful means of expression. More than a confident modernist architect, she was a skeptical modern designer and thinker. Instead of universal values, her complex work and writing unveil the roles of plurality, otherness, and instability in the constitution of modernity. Instead of agreeable forms, she strived to embrace the contingency and spontaneity of life. She spent her own life in transit, navigating the contingencies of different locations and worldviews. Her ventures established a weaving path in and out of modern culture, materialized in the communication between innovation and tradition, abstraction and realism, rationalism and surrealism, and naturalism and history, as well as between revolutionary impulses and melancholy.” Bo Bardi was not only an architect; she wrote and lectured; she designed furniture and jewelry; she was involved in radical theater productions and socially experimental projects. Her architectural projects – of which fewer than 20 were built – are brilliant as responses to how people live as well as manifestations of a desire to improve the collective nature of these living conditions. Click here to read a guest blog post by Zeuler Lima.
Lest we leave you wondering why Lina Bo Bardi generates such excitement and attention, here is a short slideshow of images from the book.