Color Clashes in the Tropics: Oscar Niemeyer, Lina Bo Bardi, and Paulo Mendes Da Rocha
February 18, 2021
In 1953, Bauhaus-trained designer Max Bill launched a crusade against the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, which he characterized as “utter anarchy in building, jungle growth in the worst sense.” What was at stake? Niemeyer had introduced swagger, color, and playfulness into an architecture that seemed to embody the spirit of Rio de Janeiro. Bill, it was revealed, served as a proxy for the rising ethos and aesthetics of Sao Paulo (as opposed to Rio de Janeiro) practitioners.
In the years that followed, positions splintered as differing approaches to modernism developed and influential Brazilian designers imagined distinct approaches to color, light, space-making, community-making, and urban form. Lina Bo Bardi –– whose own house is the closest 20th-century Brazil came to having a rival to Sir John Soane’s –– embraced the country’s native and multi-ethnic originality, even as figures such as Vilanovas Artigas and Paulo Mendes da Rocha developed a vigorously expressive proto-Brutalism.
This lecture by architectural historian Barry Bergdoll will look at the vibrant formal and social experiments of Brazilian modernism in the decade-and-a-half before the coup d’état of 1964 brought two decades of military dictatorship to Brazil. Presented by the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation as part of its 2020-2021 Color and Light lecture series, which looks at the interplay of light and color across periods and disciplines.
Thursday February 18, 5:00pm EST
Week of February 14th
18Color Clashes in the Tropics: Oscar Niemeyer, Lina Bo Bardi, and Paulo Mendes Da Rocha