Lina Bo Bardi and Pietro Maria Bardi were prominent figures in the Brazilian cultural scene. The couple promoted multiple activities of production and education in the field of arts, architecture, and design. Together, they donated to the country the results of a lifetime of work towards Brazilian art and culture.
Lina, the architect, designed projects that renewed the production of Brazilian architecture and contributed to a change in architectural thinking in Brazil and in the world. Pietro, journalist and art dealer, was one of the founders and, for decades, director of the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, one of the most relevant institutions in the Brazilian cultural field with one of the most important collections in South America. At the end of their lives, they founded Instituto Bardi, assigning the Glass House as the Institute’s headquarters.
The couple met while in Italy, in Rome, when Lina Bo – fourteen years younger than Pietro Bardi – was still at the beginning of her career while he was already an intellectual known for the defense of modern art and architecture. In 1946 they got married, left the harbor of Genoa, and arrived in Brazil aboard the freighter Almirante Jaceguay, which docked at the harbor of Rio de Janeiro. In the following year, at the invitation of businessman and journalist Assis Chateaubriand, they moved to São Paulo where Pietro would found and direct the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, an institution that allowed the couple to explore their visions and ideas about art, architecture, and museography.
In 1948, in partnership with architect Giancarlo Palanti, they created the Estúdio de Arte Palma, a space dedicated to the design of modern and industrial furniture. They launched the magazines Habitat (1950) – officially associated with the recently founded MASP and which defined itself as the “magazine of the arts of Brazil” – and Mirante das Artes (1967). Both magazines presented texts and reflections on cultural production in Brazil, expressing the interest and sensitivity of the couple for Brazilian artistic and popular culture. In 1951, they founded Instituto de Arte Contemporânea, a school also linked to MASP and one of the first design teaching initiatives in Brazil.
In 1951, they obtained Brazilian citizenship status and moved to their newly built residence in the Morumbi neighborhood of São Paulo: the Glass House, where they lived together until the end of their lives.
2 Estante modular e poltrona em compensado do Estúdio de Arte Palma, em São Paulo
Foto Peter Scheier
Together, they developed numerous projects, mainly related to the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, but both also accomplished major works individually. Lina had a strong presence and influence in the editorial field – writing and illustrating for important Italian and Brazilian magazines -, as well as the museographic, scenic and architectural fields; she designed and built emblematic architectural projects, such as the MASP building, the Glass House, the Solar do Unhão, the SESC Pompéia, among others. Pietro, in parallel with being the director of MASP, had always maintained his activity as an essayist, critic, historian, researcher, and art dealer. He is the author of numerous books and worked in the direction and editing of several newspapers and magazines.
In 1990, Lina and Pietro founded the Instituto Quadrante – now Instituto Bardi / Casa de Vidro – with the aim of “developing alone or in partnership with the Museu de Arte de São Paulo – Assis Chateaubriand – MASP and also with national and foreign entities, cultural activities and studies related to the history of art and architecture”, guidelines that are still part of the Institute’s objectives to this day.
With the deaths of Lina in 1992 and Pietro in 1999, the Institute dedicated itself to continue the work of its founders, preserving and disseminating the important artistic legacy left by them.