10/20/2017 8:49 AM
Establishing the first and largest European and Latin American Art Collection in South America: 70th anniversary of MASP
Founded in 1947, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) was developed by the journalist and famous media entrepreneur Assis Chateaubriand. Chateaubriand, who owned the largest media network in Brazil, envisioned a project that would help to modernize São Paulo culture at a time that its boom was fueled by several industries including the coffee business. At that time, there was only one official art center in São Paulo, the Pinacoteca do Estado, which was exclusively dedicated to academic art. Having this in mind Chateaubriand invited the Italian gallerist and art critic Pietro Maria Bardi as well as his wife, the architect Lina Bo Bardi to offer their guidance concerning the art collection as well with the museological and museographical strategies for the upcoming art space. Together, they developed a ground-breaking pedagogical model with a focus on the education of the general public about modern art. The program included educational exhibitions about art history, lectures, courses, and exhibitions of works by contemporary artists such as Le Corbusier, Alexander Calder, Max Bill, and Paul Klee.
On October 2, 1947 the private, non-profit Museu de Arte de São Paulo opened its doors in the location of the headquarters of the Diários Associados (Associated Press), a one thousand square-meter room owned by Assis Chateaubriand. A few years later (1950), Lina and Pietro Maria launch a magazine published by the museum: Habitat which mission was to define a modern environment in the broadest sense of the term, as “dignity, morality of life and, consequently, spirituality and culture”. The publication will include a wide range of culture-related subjects, like architecture, museology, education, painting, music, cinema, regional crafts, and design. In 1951 the couple opened the Instituto de Arte Contemporânea (IAC) - MASP, to offer courses to educate qualified professionals in industrial design. The idea was to train technicians, not artists, in the fields of ceramics, furniture building, and the graphic arts, among others, as long as these practices were compatible with the objectives of Brazilian industry . The IAC’s fundamental mission was to train the younger generation of workers to help adapt industry to modern ideas and contemporary tastes. A number of artists who studied at the Instituto went on to successful careers in the field of Brazilian industrial design, including Alexandre Wollner, Maurício Nogueira Lima, Antônio Maluf, among others, whose works are now are part of the MFAH Collection.
A couple of decades after its opening (1968), the MASP inaugurated a new building designed by Lina Bo Bardi. One more time, Bardi challenged the configuration of a static museum and envisioned instead an space that project “flexibility.” For that reason the works were not arranged within a chronological criterion in order to awake reactions of “curiosity and investigation.” The paintings were detached from the walls, mounted on a neutral background, and held by metal pipes fixed on the ceiling and floor inviting a more dynamic way to look at them.
Among their multiple innovations, the MASP sought to lead a movement that was interested in creating a progressive partnership with other institutions such as the Bienal de São Paulo or the FAAP, an educational organization that taught art and humanities classes at its premises. Through exhibitions such as the Max Bill’s show in March of 1951 the MASP will promote a start-up of the constructivism movement as well as a the debate about the abstractionism. Our readers can learn more about MASP at the ICAA digital archive.