Second of four brothers, Pietro Maria Bardi was born on February 21, 1900, in La Spezia, a small Italian town on the Gulf of Genoa. They said it was few friends and that his school life was very rough. Bardi himself declared, in numerous interviews, failing four times in the third grade of teaching fundamentals. He left school, discouraged by the failure, and attributed his intelligence to a domestic accident: after a fall in which he injured his head, he started to reading. He started to read absolutely everything he could, a habit that followed him throughout his life.
When he was teenager, Bardi works as an assistant worker at the Arsenale Marittimo and, in then he becomes an apprentice in a law firm. In 1917 he was summoned to join the Italian army and leaves La Spezia to never return. It is at this stage that he actually starts his journalistic career, previously outlined in some articles and collaborations with newspapers such as Gazzetta di Genova and Independente and with the publication, at the age of 16, of his first book, an essay on colonialism. Installed in Bergamo since his low career, Bardi finds work in the Giornale di Bergamo. Later, he joined the team at Popolo di Bergamo, Secolo, Corriere della Sera, Quadrante, Stile and many others. The writing was his main professional activity until death, the way found to manifest his style controversial and criticism based on deep knowledge and daily experience of art, politics and, mainly, architecture.
In 1924, Bardi moved to Milan and married Gemma Tortarolo, with whom he has two daughters, Elisa and Fiorella. It is in Milan that he begins an adventure like art dealer and critic, with the acquisition of Galleria dell’Esame. Founds in Milan Galleria Bardi, in via Brera, where he presented several artists. In 1929 he became director from Galleria d’Arte di Roma and moves to the capital. Bringing exposure to Buenos Aires passes through Brazil for the first time in 1933. It is on this occasion that he sees Avenida Paulista, the future address of MASP.
After World War II, Bardi meets architect Lina Bo at Studio d’Arte Palma, in Rome, which Bardi had created in 1944, an important research and sales center for art. He divorces and marries Lina in 1946. In the same year, they begin the adventure coming to Brazil, a country with the prospect of prosperity and the scenario of a talented and promising architecture, a situation opposite to that of Europe, which is a bitter reconstruction in the post-war years. The couple leaves Genoa aboard the freighter Admiral Jaceguay, bringing a significant collection of works of art and pieces of handcrafts to be presented in a series of exhibitions. Transport also the huge dealer library.
They arrive in Rio de Janeiro on October 17 of the same year. With the works brought from Italy, Bardi organizes the “Exhibition of modern Italian painting”, in whose halls meet the businessman Assis Chateaubriand, who invites him to assemble a museum long conceived. From 1947 to 1996 Bardi creates and commands the Museum of Art of São Paulo, MASP. In parallel, he maintains his activity as an essayist, critic, historian, researcher, and gallery owner. In 1992, he published his 50th and last book, “História MASP ”. In 1996, already sick, he left the command of the museum. Dejected and with his weakened since Lina’s death in 1992, he died in 1st. of October 1999, having spent almost a century of life proving his definition of himself, in response to partner Chateaubriand: “Yes, I am an adventurer”.