An unmistakable presence in Brazilian postwar design, Lina Bo Bardi's work was not widely-recognized in her lifetime. Her first major exhibition came in 1989, just three years before her death. Yet in the past year, she's been the subject of gallery and museum shows in New York, Toronto, and across Europe. In 2015, the Italian-born architect and designer behind such masterpieces of Brazilian modernism as the Glass House in São Paulo and the Bowl chair is at last having her moment.
Lina Bo Bardi: Together, which opened in London last year and arrived at the Graham Foundation in Chicago over the weekend, is as much an exploration of her work as a document of how people interact with it. Bo Bardi, who emigrated to Brazil with her husband Pietro Maria Bardi amid the political upheaval of postwar Italy, was fascinated by what architecture could do for humanity. "Until a man enters a building, climbs steps, and takes possession of the space in a 'human adventure,'" she said, "architecture does not exist."
Curated by Argentine architect Noemi Blager, the latest exhibition captures Bo Bardi's generous spirit through multiple mediums. Video projections by Finnish filmmaker Tapio Snellman portray Bo Bardi's SESC Pompéia recreational center as a life-giving oasis for the residents of bustling São Paulo. A collection of craft objects by artist Madelon Vriesendorp provides a window into the vibrant culture in which Bo Bardi was immersed. The exhibition also includes her iconic Bowl chairs, which Arper produced a limited run of to help finance the tour.
Lina Bo Bardi: Together is on display at the Graham Foundation now until July 25.