A Look Back at Lina Bo Bardi

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By Kelsey Keith
Happy birthday, Lina Bo Bardi! The influential modernist architect would have turned 99 this week, so we celebrate her anniversary with a look at Yale University Press's new monograph of her work.

Lina Bo Bardi (1914–1992) was born Achillina di Enrico Bo in Rome in 1914 and moved to Brazil in 1946, on something of a whim after marrying art dealer and journalist Pietro Maria Bardi. Brazil became her adopted home, a place where she was free to make provocative announcements ("I have never faced any obstacles, even as a woman, That's why I say I am Stalinest and anti-feminist.") while designing some of the country's most vanguard modernist architecture of the 20th century. 

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Interior of Lina Bo and P.M. Bardi's house in Morumbi, São Paulo (1949–52). Photo by Nelson Kon.

(Tip: You can visit the house, which is now a museum, in person!)

Extending her European architectural training, Bo Bardi "continued to work with industrial materials like concrete and glass, [while] popular building materials and naturalistic forms to her design palette, striving to create large, multiuse spaces that welcomed public life." She achieved recognition relatively late in life—the first exhibition of her work in Brazil took place in 1989, when Bo Bardi was 74—and the first comprehensive study of her work and achievements is being published now, in 2013. Lina Bo Bardi by Zeuler R. M. de A. Lima, with foreword by Barry Bergdoll, is out this month from Yale Press. Lima is the foremost scholar on Bo Bardi and frames the volume by discussing the architect’s activities on two continents and in five cities. Buy it here

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Exterior of Lina Bo and P. M. Bardi house in Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil (1949–52). Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Lina Bo Bardi’s studio in Morumbi, São Paulo (1986). Photograph by architect and Yale Press author Zeuler R. Lima.

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View from the living room of the Valéria P. Cirell House in Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil (1957–58). Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Exterior of the Valéria P. Cirell House in Morumbi, São Paulo, Brazil (1957–58). Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Coati Restaurant at the Ladeira da Misericórdia Housing and Commercial Complex, Salvador (1987–88). Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Southwestern view from avenida Paulista of MASP, São Paulo (1957–68). Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Interior view of the community hall in Cerrado Church, Uberlândia, Minas Gerais (1976–82). Photo by author Zeuler R. Lima.

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Lina Bo Bardi's modernist vision did not stop at architecture; she also delved into furniture design. Here, the Bardi Bowl chair in steel and leather from 1951. Photo by Nelson Kon.

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Lina Bo Bardi, foldable chair in wood and leather (1948). Photograph by Nelson Kon.

Want to read more? Check out Lina Bo Bardi by Zeuler R. M. de A. Lima, out this month from Yale Press.

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