The hundredth anniversary of the birth of Lina Bo Bardi, architect and designer, is celebrated this year in Italy, Brazil and in other countries. Born in Rome on 5 December 1914, four months after the outbreak of World War II, Lina graduated in architecture in 1939 to then move to Milan, where she worked in the studio of Gio Ponti. Co-founder, together with Bruno Zevi, of the weekly «La cultura della vita», in 1946 she married the impetuous architect, art critic and collector Pietro Maria Bardi, with whom she moved to Brazil, the country which is linked to her name and in which she has realized her most important projects, as the Masp (Museum of art of San Paolo, 1947, where her husband held the position of curator) and the Glass House (San Paolo, 1951), the villa-atelier in which she lived until her death in 1992.
On the occasion of the anniversary, exhibitions and events are being organized in different cities in order to celebrate and present the singular figure of Lina Bo Bardi, as woman and artist. For a nation like Brazil, more than any other country of its dimension, she has represented a continuous stimulus to research, projecting her character in the whole world parallel to the international architecture and modernism of Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer. But as Brazilian architecture went through its utopian phase, Bo Bardi took a distance from this approach by designing buildings that allowed a diffusion of international modernism not only in the richer southern parts of the country, but also in the beloved territory of Bahia, in the culturally vivacious but economically disadvantaged north.
On 5 May the architecture department of the University of Florence in collaboration with the Tuscany Region presented the "Lina100" project, coordinated by Giacomo Pirazzoli; it comprises a series of conferences, a workshop and the realization of a web-documentary directed by Filippo Macelloni at the Marino Marini Museum.
On 13 June the Johann Jacobs Museum of Zurich launched a six-month program dedicated to Lina Bo Bardi with an exhibition curated by Roger M. Buergel, which analyses how the cultural heritage of Bahia has influenced her work and how the afro-influenced culture of the region has inspired her whole body of work.
In September 2012 the itinerant exhibition “Lina Bo Bardi: Together”, began its tour through Europe, travelling from London to Vienna, from Basle to Paris, from Stockholm to Amsterdam, stopping at venues including the Deutsches Architektur Zentrum in Berlin and the Milan Triennale, where it will remain open until 5 October.
Rather than a monographic homage to Bo Bardi’s work, the exhibition explores her public and private life, manifested as a more ample tribute to her inclusive philosophy. It evokes the vitality and creative drive which her works and writings continue to inspire, especially now that her work definitively receives the due attention, also outside Brazil.
The exhibition, curated by Noemí Blager, features a reinterpretation in three parts of Lina Bo Bardi’s work, through the work of contemporary artists, film clips and photographs. “Together” explores the influence of Brazilian popular culture on Lina Bo Bardi’s work, the influence of Lina Bo Bardi’s own work on Brazilian popular culture, at least of that of São Paulo, and the ways in which all this has influenced the private life of the versatile Milanese.
It is evidently a matter of a necessary comparison, considering the role which Brazilian popular art has played on the private and professional life of Lina Bo Bardi; this influence is reflected by the exhibition through a collection of ceremonial objects, toys produced by local craftsmen and popular art assembled by the Dutch artist Madelon Vriesendorp, and objects created by Brazilian children during a workshop held at the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia in Salvador. Photographs by Ioana Marinescu and film clips by Tapio Snellman, projected on screens and on the floor, explore the textures, colours, sounds and life staged at the very famous centre of culture hosted at the former industrial complex SESC Pompéia, immersed in the urban tissue of São Paulo, tracing parallels with the city of Salvador. These memories and traces of life witness the continuous presence of Lina Bo Bardi through the work, objects and writings she has left us. What Bo Bardi has left behind her is not just her work as an architect, but the testimonial of a woman who has combined art with life, conviction with playfulness and creativity with honesty, both in her work and in the way she lived.