AN IDEAL NATIONALITY (AT MASP)
Tomorrow evening, April 29, at the Graham Foundation in Chicago, I'll present work in progress on the gnarled histories of architecture, poetry, and nation-building that converge in the construction of a great museum on the part of a group of Italian immigrants/émigrés between Rome and São Paulo—and try to sketch out how public space, poetic form, and the meaning of abstraction in the arts changed as a result of this collaboration. This is part of the programming for the centenary exhibit Lina Bo Bardi: Together.
It's important to honor the development of public spaces that give shelter to protest rather than being constructed to prevent it: this was my experience at MASP.
In conjunction with our current exhibition Lina Bo Bardi: Together, Jennifer Scappettone will present her recent research on the collaborative and cross-disciplinary making of the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) in the 1940s-60s. Scappettone will track the radical efforts of curation by museum director Pietro Maria Bardi, architect and designer Lina Bo Bardi, and the poet Emilio Villa on the inaugural exhibitions for the museum, with an eye to how their supranational reach and montage of prehistoric and modernist aesthetics impacted both contemporary art criticism and the poetry of the neo-avant-garde. MASP’s unique “didactic” exhibitions, which featured objects, photographs, documents, and texts displayed in floating glass easels designed by Lina Bo Bardi, aimed to forge a newly global art history and to educate the New World public without academic pretense—in the interest of enacting what director P. M. Bardi called the “collaboration of all human forces,” generating no less than “the democratic formation of modern man.”