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Oficina Bo Bardi

Silvia Davoli

Italy, 2006, 26'


The Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992) arrived in Salvador de Bahia in 1958 in a moment of great cultural and creative effervescence that would have been concluded with the dictatorship of 1964. Her passage as architect and director of the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia marked deeply the artistic production of those years.
Fascinated by the popular culture of the North-east, she conceived, together with the sculptor Mario Cravo, the project CETA, Centro de Estudo do Trabalho Artesanal, whose objective was the creation of a true Brazilian industrial design derived from the shapes of the local handicraft. Lina organized a scientific collection of the handicraft material of the region of Bahia and dreamt of creating a laboratory, the Oficinas do Unhão, in which craftsmen and young designers could meet and collaborate. The project never saw its light, but "Lina had by now thrown a seed".

Original language
Portuguese, Italian
English, Italian, French. Pay attention!! On our store you can rent or buy the version with Italian subtitles. For English and French subtitles rent or buy on Vimeo on Demand

I became Brazilian naturalized. When one is born one chooses nothing, one is born by chance. I wasn't born here, I chose this place to live there.

01:45 (Mario Cravo)
Mario Cravo, sculptor

Lina met here a stratified city, sedimented in the lifestyle of the seventeenth century. With medieval characteristics, completely isolated.

The only contact Bahia had with the outside was through the seaplanes that landed on the Itapagipi peninsula if the sea was calm. At that time there were neither roads nor railways that brought northern Brazil into contact with the south. This we live in is a fantastic and crazy forest.

For you in Europe, nature is a wonder, everything is orderly. The cypresses are planted neat along the roads. Here in the tropics, if you stay still, nature devours you, destroys you, eats you like an animal. The land of Adam, primitive, is terrible to survive. Because here we still make animal sacrifices to the gods today. Do you know how long this habit has been lost in Europe? If you go to a candomblè it is not strange to see people making animal sacrifices: a goat, three chicken heads. Barbarian, primitive, but it is natural because we also come from Africa. We are exactly this complexity



05:10 (Graziella Bo Valentinetti)

Graziella Bo Valentinetti, Lina's sister
I remember the first letters she wrote: "an unthinkable, unreal country where there is everything to do". She who had always had a passion for these tropical countries since she was a child, for mysterious things. He found a wonderful thing, a land where there was everything to do she wrote: "there are precious stones on the street".

"In the period from 1958 to little more than 1960, Bahia experienced the splendor of a melting pot of initiatives that represented a very great hope for the whole country: the Theater School, the Higher School of Music and the Museu de Arte Moderna ".

They invited her from the University of Bahia to give courses and she went to Bahia, didn't know her and went there and got excited, it's logical.

05:35 (Calasans Neto)
Calasans Neto, painter and engraver

When my generation was formed in Bahia a renaissance movement arose thanks to a rector, Dr. Edgar Santos, who was a scientist who was also interested in art. He brought to Bahia the best things that existed in the theater and in music in the world. But more important than all this, so to speak the central strength of everything, was the arrival of Lina Bardi in Bahia.

06:12 (Mario Cravo)

Lina was chosen to make a Museum of Modern Art in Bahia. Lina was called to install and run a museum of Modern Art that did not exist, it was created by her. Here Lina brought very rare pieces: originals by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Degas ... in Bahia, in our city we had never seen them so closely.

06:44 (Sante Scaldaferri)
Sante Scaldaferri, painter

It was Lina who made the first exhibition of abstract art and here in Bahia no one knew what abstract art was. In the Unhao Museum he continued to do these exhibitions, but his interest was already in popular art.

07:05 (Calasans Neto)
She brought to Bahia the love, the respect for the things that came from the people, for the popular art that was disowned as if it were a second-class thing.


"To dig deep into a civilization, the simplest, the poorest, to get to its popular roots is to understand the history of a country."


07:31 (Calasans Neto)
She valued what popular art produced, like craftsmanship and fashion. Everything was part of a cauldron from which emerged the most important thing that is the soul of the people. It is the people who say.


"Important in my life was the journey to the Northeast and the work I did throughout the Drought Range. There I saw freedom. "

9:00 (Calasans Neto)
The Reconcavo culture that developed in the Northeast was created with the influence of the Indians, European colonizers and slaves who came from Africa. The Reconcavo is a civilization. All civilizations are born near great rivers, not here, it was a bay that gathered all popular traditions. It was the Bahia de Todos os Santos.

09:20 (Mario Cravo)
We liked to travel to observe the habits of the population and collect material that we collected. Here you can see Mario Cravo in the midst of hundreds of ex-votos that I collected together with the figureheads of the Rio Sao Francisco ships.

Our generation was a pioneer group of modern artists who, between the 40s and 50s, did research in this vast region. We traveled by jeep but the roads did not exist. It was an adventure.

10:02 (Sante Scaldaferri)
We traveled to the Interior where mysticism was strong and where there were ex-votos that we gathered together with Lina. On board a jeep we went in search of material. We also collected toys because for us the playful aspect was very important.

All these Lina objects then gathered them in the Museum of Popular Art.


"The Museu de Arte Popular de la Unhao was not designed as a Folklore Museum. It should have been the Museu de "Arte" as Artes ", that is the" doing, the facts, the events of everyday life ".


10:43  (Maria Muniz)
Maria Muniz, actress
This is a spectacular, wonderful project by Lina. I also collaborated with her in the preparation of the Museum of Popular Art. I believe that Lina had a great sensitivity for popular art and our folk art is very rich. We went twice to the Reconcavo, to Nazares das Farinas. We attended the Cachichi fair which was very interesting at the time. There we found what we needed. Lina was fascinated by all this. She and I made two or three trips to the Reconcavo to collect material.

11:43 (Mario Cravo)
Lina made an exhibition at San Paolo, Ibirapuera, wonderful, full of documentation.
Lina collected popular material that cost nothing, like a piece of cloth, and turned it into an object of concrete art.

11:54  (Lisa Ponti)
Lisa Ponti, artist and sister of Gio Ponti
One thing that I remember, who knows how through the years, maybe I felt it from her, is of an installation of an exhibition in which there was the floor covered with leaves. This idea struck me very much and maybe a character other than Lina couldn't have such a fresh, courageous idea. Here he put the two things together, then then it was even more difficult to plan and make his way, so that his somewhat fanciful grip on reality was part of this form of battle that she did after all.

12:38 (Mario Cravo)
Lina used material that had never been considered an aesthetic object and by exposing it she transformed it into an object of aesthetic category.


"Outside the categories you will no longer be afraid of recognizing the aesthetic value in an object made with a tin of kerosene."

17:38 (Graziella Bo Valentinetti)
I cannot make a real criticism of the CETA project, but what I can say is that the moment a tradition is dislocated, a tradition that arises from a religious and physical and psychic subsistence need cannot be transported into a other place.

19:00 (Mario Cravo)
Bring master craftsmen from the Interior here to teach people living in the city how to produce these objects. Looking back today, this could not be done, it was like creating a Frankenstein.

19:18  (Cravo Neto)
These people needed those objects to survive, to provide for their lives in order to give meaning to their lives. It is a poetic system for which an activity cannot be displaced from one place to another because at the moment when it is dislocated another reality is created that has nothing to do with the original one. So, in my opinion, it was an absurd project.

19:50  (Mario Cravo)
Lina brought here a process of European know-how based on a centuries-old tradition in which design finds its foundation, in the knowledge of sophisticated techniques. We do not know these sophisticated techniques, so the project consisted in forcing this process and passing directly from an archaic, ancient and elementary technique to sophisticated processing. Hence the difficulties and even if Lina had succeeded in carrying out the project, I doubt that she would have succeeded in bringing it to fruition. He had an ideal project but the conditions were not propitious, even if other factors had not interfered in the realization of this project.


"The 6th Military Region, shortly after April 1964, occupied the Museu de Arte Moderna de Bahia. In front of the museum the cannons. "


20:56 (Maria Muniz)
This is a black spot in our cultural history. Lina Bardi was practically banned from Bahia because of people who denounced her for absolutely incomprehensible reasons.

So 1964 was from every point of view, not only for Bahia but for all of Brazil, a black hole in our history and in our culture.

21:39  (Calasans Neto)
Then came the revolution that confused everything and all was lost, but she planted an important thing: a seed.

22:15 (Fernando Campana)
There are many creatives who based on Lina's work have learned to be proud of Brazil without denying it, without wishing to be Italian German, Japanese, to be simply Brazilian.

I was born in Rome.

I graduated from the Faculty of Architecture

Rome was a steady city, there was fascism.

All of Italy was quite firm. But Milan no.

22:55  (Maria Muniz)
He was an enthusiastic person, he had Italian energy.


In Milan, to practice, I entered the studio of the famous architect Gio Ponti.


The beginning of the war posed other problems: it could no longer be built.


From '41 to '43 I had an intense journalistic activity.

23:24 (Calasans Neto)
He worked, he worked like crazy all day.

23:36 (Maria Muniz)
Working with Lina was really a huge pleasure.

1946 Marriage with Pietro Maria Bardi

That year, I travel to South America


23:51 (Sante Scaldaferri)
Art in Bahia, modern art owes much to Lina Bardi.

1947 Chateaubriand invited Pietro to found and direct an art museum

In the Museu de Arte de São Paolo project I looked for a simple architecture.


23:11 (Fernando Campana)
In the 70s I often went to the Masp. I remember entering that room full of paintings floating in the air. They were suspended in the glass. Something that had never been seen anywhere. It was something magical.

I took full advantage of the experience of five years spent in the northeast, of the lesson of the popular experience, not as folk romanticism but as an experience of simplification.

24:30 (Fernando Campana)
It is a pity that today the Masp is completely distorted. It is a pity that Brazil is not able to preserve its memory.


25:00 (Maria Muniz)
Even today I am surprised to see how we do not know how to preserve here. I don't know why Bahia has this problem with memory.

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