Sao Paulo Art Museum [MASP]


Located right where Paulista Av. Intersects Trianon Park -in Sao Paulo, Brazil- this project was designed by architect Lina Bo Bardi.


Lina Bo Bardi

About the author

Lina Bo Bardi [1914-1992] was a modernist Brazilian architect born in Roma, Italia. After she graduated from Roma Architecture School in 1939, she worked at Gio Ponti’s office in Milan where she acquired experience to found her own office –which was destroyed by a bombing in 1943-. In 1946 she assumed the position of temporary Director of Italian journal Domus at the same time that she moves with her husband –art collector Pietro Maria Bardi- to Brazil. She gets Brazilian nationality in 1951, and builds her first work –the Glass House- in Morumbi neighbourhood. The work of Lina Bo Bardi gets to peak with 3 emblematic works in Sao Paulo: MASP, Teatro Oficina and SESC Pompeia.

About the work

A corner of one's memory? A tomb for illustrious mummies? A storehouse or an archive of human works which, made by man, are already obsolete an must be handled with a sense of pity? Not at all. The new museums should open their doors, and let pure air and new light in. Between the past and the present there is no solution of continuity. It is necessary to adapt modern life, unfortunately melancholic an distracted by so many nightmares, to the great and noble current of art. It is in this new social sense that the Sao Paulo Art Museum was conceived directed specifically at uninformed unintellectual, unprepared masses.

The purpose of a Museum is to provide an atmosphere, a conduct likely to create in the visitor a mentality prepared for understanding the work of art, and in this sense no distinction is made between an old or a modern work of art. With the same objective the work of art is not located following a chronological criterion but it is presented almost deliberately so as to pro¬duce a shock, to awaken reactions of curiosity and investigation. The MASP, with his famous empty space, is not an eccentricity to astonish people, for them to say: "Wow, what a huge thing!" It's not what in popular language would be an architectural extravagance. That land was donated by and old Sao Paulo family, who also bequeathed the "Belvedere" of Trianon, which was supposed to remain forever in the history of the city and could never be destroyed, for in this case, the land was supposed to go back to the owners.

The criteria governing the internal architecture of the Museum were restricted to solutions of "flexibility", to the possibility of transforming the ambiance, together with strict economy that is in keeping with our times.

I was looking for simple architecture, one that could immediately communicate that which in the past was known as "monumental", that is, in the sense of the "collective", of "Civic Dig¬nity". I made the most of my experience of five years in the Northeast of Brazil, a lesson of popular experience, not as folkloric romanticism but as an experiment in simplification. By means of a popular experiment I arrived at which might be called Poor Architecture. I insist, not from the ethical point of view. I feel that in Sao Paulo Art Museum I eliminated all the cultural snob¬bery so dearly beloved by the intellectuals (and today's architects), opting for direct, raw solu¬tions. Concrete as it comes from the forms, the lack of finishing, may shock a whole group of people. The simpler solutions were the ones selected. Such as for example in the auditorium, which will propose a bare theater, almost the "farmyard" professed by Antonin Artaud.

The evocative touches and contours were abandoned, and the old works of art were no longer mounted upon velvet, as still to this day some specialists in museums advocate, or upon cloths of the times, but courageously placed upon a neutral background. Thus, the modern works in a standardization were situated in such a way as not to attract attention before the observer had noticed thermo They do not say, therefore, "you should admire this, it's a Rembrandt", but rather leave the spectator to his own pure and unhampered observations, guided only by the captions, which are descriptive to a point that eliminates exaltation in order to have critical rigor. Picture frames were also eliminated (when they were not authentic to their times) and replaced with a neutral band. In this fashion the old works of art wound up located in a new life, alongside the modern ones, in a sense of taking part in the life of today as much as possible.

The New Trianon Museum is comprised of a base (on the Nove de Julho Avenue side), the covering of which forms the great Belvedere. The "ball room" request by the Municipal Government in 1957 to be replaced by a large Civic was Hall, a headquarters for public and political meetings. A large theater-auditorium and a small auditorium-projection room complete this base. Over the Belvedere, at the Paulista Avenue level, rises the Sao Paulo Art Museum building. The building with a clear span of seventy meters, five meters of cantilever at each end, eight meters of free floor to ceiling height at any column, rests upon four pillars, connected together by two prestressed concrete beams on the roof and two· large central beams to carry the floor that is to house the Museum's Picture Gallery.

The floor below the picture gallery, which is to hold offices, temporary exhibitions halls, private exhibition halls, libraries, etc., is suspended from these two great beams on the roof by means of steel tie-rods.

An open air stairway and a steel and tempered glass cargo and passenger elevator provide communication between the floors. All the facilities, including air conditioning, are visible. Finish is as simple as possible. Architectural concrete, whitewash, a pedra-goias stone floor for the great Civil Hall, tempered glass, plastic walls, whitewashed architectural concrete for the Museum building. The flooring is made of industrial type black rubber.

The Belvedere is a "city square" surrounded by plants and flowers, paved with stones in true Iberic-Brazilian Tradition. Areas are planed holding water, small ponds with aquatic plants.

The Trianon complex is to replace, in its monumental simplicity, today's so unpopular themes of rationalism.

For a number of reasons, some incidents occurred during the construction of the Museum. It was necessary an addition of a vertical prestressing to the pillars and this last-minute addition remains as an "accepted incident".

I even tried create an "atmosphere" in the Trianon. I would like the public to go there to see open air exhibitions and discuss things, listen to music, see movies.

Children, too, playing in the sun, from morning to evening. And brass band concerts. A somewhat bad taste in popular music which, when faced coldly, may also be a "content".

Time is a spiral. Beauty in itself is something that doesn't really exist. It exists during a historic period, and then the fashion changes it becomes something bad. In the Sao Paulo Art Museum I only tried to reassume certain positions. I didn't look for beauty, I looked for freedom. The intellectuals never liked it, but the people did: "You know who made this? It was a woman!! .. :"

Lina Bo Bardi [Bardi, Lina Bo, Museo de arte de Sao Paulo:1957-1968. Blau portfolio series]  

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Information Work

Date of recording: 2012
Country: Brazil
Context: Urban
Construction system: Concrete
M2: 10 000
Program: Culture
Client type: Public
Client: Pietro María Bardi and Assis Chateubriand

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