The couple met in Italy, in Rome, in 1943, when Lina, fourteen years older Pietro Bardi, was still at the beginning of his career while he was already an intellectual known for defending modern art and architecture. Self-taught, combined several fronts of action in magazines and newspapers with the activities of art dealer and director of art galleries. The participation of Bardi in the organization of the Second Italian Exhibition of Rational Architecture, held in Rome in 1931, it was decisive for the space conquered by modern young people in fascist Italy. Its objective was to dispute the hegemony exercised by Marcello Piacentini, then in control of a modernization process without break with the neoclassical academic tradition. Bardi organized a provocative exhibition, opening with a collage panel that ridiculed the provincialism of Italian architecture, Tavola degli Orrori (Table of Horrors). During Mussolini’s visit to the opening of the exhibition, he presented Rapporto sull’Architettura (Report on Architecture), a pamphlet in which he defended that rationalist architecture should be adopted as “state art”, as it is the best expression of the modernizing character of the regime. 

Despite the negative reaction from Duce and other authorities to the election, a period of relative acceptance of modern architecture, which would be victorious in many design contests public in the following years. As an editor, critic, and journalist in Italy, the most successful initiative was Quadrante magazine, founded by him in 1933 and one of the main vectors of the modern debate until its closure in 1936. Thanks to it, he was able to approach the architects of the vanguards of other countries, participating in the Fourth International Congress of Modern Architecture in 1933. By taking Le Corbusier for conferences in Rome and Milan in 1934, Bardi consolidated itself as a reference in the parents. Her combative performance would attract young Lina Bo’s attention even in her undergraduate years.

 Shortly after graduating from the Faculty of Architecture in Rome in 1939, Lina moved to Milan, associating with his schoolmate Carlo Pagani. In the middle of the war, with the low activity of construction, she devoted herself to illustration and interior design. Along with Pagani, she collaborated with Gio Ponti in the magazines Bellezza and Lo Stile, where he produced the covers and illustrations. How worsening of the war, Lina follows Pagani in her transfer to Domus magazine in 1943. In addition to producing articles more engaged in the proposition of modern architecture, it already anticipates the agenda of the year’s reconstruction after the end of the conflict. He starts to support his friends in the movement of resistance against the German occupation, although their direct participation in it is not proven.

In 1945, at the end of the war in Europe, she founded magazine A with Pagani and Bruno Zevi, as a synthesis of “Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte”, dedicated to bringing the problems of reconstruction to an audience unskilled. Pietro Maria Bardi’s adherence to fascism is controversial. It is not distinguished from that majority of rationalists, who during the war would repent and go on to act in opposition to the regime. Recent studies reveal an isolated figure in the state’s bureaucratic political apparatus, a character whose political conception was not accepted by the members of the Fascist Party. 


The reaction of political sectors of fascism, which did not accept modern art and architecture, led to the closure Quadrante in 1936 and Bardi’s censorship in 1938. In addition to editorial activity in magazines, Bardi had experience in the direction of cultural institutions. He directed the Galleria d’Arte di Roma (1930-1933) and founded Studio d’Arte Palma in 1944, where he developed a program of exhibitions, conferences, and training in the area of ​​restoration and assignment in works of art. It was from him that he planned his coming to Brazil, newly married to Lina, in September 1946, to present art exhibitions in Rio de Janeiro.

In the first, held at the Ministry of Education, a manifest building of Architecture Modern Brazilian, Bardi meets the millionaire media entrepreneur, Assis Chateaubriand, whose he would receive an invitation to help him with the construction of his museum in São Paulo. I brought the museological conception that would emerge in Italy after the war, and that animated the museums that appeared for occupying palaces and castles restored and adapted for this use. Also the new way of exhibiting would come with the couple. The design of Franco Albini’s exhibitions from 1941 in Milan, with its support thin and transparent were similar to those created by Lina at the first MASP headquarters. 

They brought an Italian way of thinking about the modern in a country with the presence of remnants from so many times of art and architecture on the streets of their cities. In De Chirico’s metaphysical art, the theme central was this coexistence between times in the city. For that, light and perspective created a dimension of eternity, beyond any instrumentalization of the classic by the historical, authoritarian present or democratic. It is not by chance that Lina’s drawings for the Museum at the Edge of the Ocean, made in 1951, used depth and metaphysical light, representing pictures and sculptures through perspective collages, with the infinite ocean in the background. 

Rehearsal carried out in the Glass House room and, later, on the transparency of the Masp headquarters on Avenida Paulista. Glass easels and facades transparent arranged the works of art in the same space and time, suspended over the city, between the green of Trianon park and the view of the valley. The Glass House was an opportunity to experimentation, as developed by Aline Corato in her text to follow in this volume.

The role of an art museum in Brazil, however, posed new problems in relation to the experience Italian. Nelson Rockefeller’s constant presence in São Paulo pointed to the Museum of Modern Art – New York MoMA as a reference for the new Brazilian museums, among other subjects of interest of the government of the United States of America – USA. The openness to international debate is expressed by Bardi’s participation in the International Council of Museums – ICOM, since 1947, which he proposed policies so that museums were geared towards the formation of audiences and artists.

Masp was created with this program, understanding the enormous potential of rapid growth post-war economic and population development of São Paulo. In 1950, the creation of the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea – IAC at Masp expanded the formative character of the early years, introducing courses such as industrial design (the first in Brazil), advertising and marketing, fashion, cinema, among others linked directly to art. 

Active insertion project in the modernization and industrialization process Brazilian, intended to repeat the role of integration with the industry that characterized the German Werkbund at the beginning of the 20th century, from which the avant-garde Bauhaus (1919-1933) emerged. The specifics of industrialization, guided by large multinational companies, did not open space for a practice of own design and the project would give its first sign of crisis when the industrial design course closed in 1953, due to a lack of business support. 

The crisis worsened as accusations arose as to the authenticity of art works in the collection. Due to its political position and use instrumentality of the media of his property, Chateaubriand also attracted opposition strong to Masp, extended to the direction of Bardi. As a result, from 1953, Bardi promotes an international tour through some of the main museums in the world, proving with his prestige the quality of the collection. On the other hand, the physical space limits of the first Masp headquarters demanded alternatives. The first was a partnership agreement with the Armando Álvares Foundation Penteado – FAAP, which was building its headquarters with a neoclassical project by Auguste Perret in Pacaembú, in Sao Paulo. Failed this partnership in 1957, Lina would start the project the following year for a new Masp headquarters on Avenida Paulista, opened only in 1968. The formative character of the museum brought the Eurocentrism and the couple’s efforts to avoid it were enormous. Recognition of culture developed by them can be followed in the articles of Habitat magazine, where there was no contrast between the interest in Le Corbusier and the Baroque art or the Northeastern ex-votos. 

The popular culture was clearly articulated to the scholar, whether ancient or modern. The museum should be “outside the limits ”, as Bardi had written at the ICOM Congress in 1947 and reaffirmed in his article in the first issue of Habitat magazine in 1951.