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    L´arte dei poveri fa paura ai generali / di Bruno Zevi

    Publicado posteriormente como:

    ZEVI, Bruno. A arte dos pobres apavora os generais, Bruzo Zevi. In: BARDI, Lina Bo. Tempos de Grossura: o design no impasse. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro Maria Bardi, 1994. p.46-49.

    L´Expresso (Roma, Itália). -- Vol. XI, no.11 (Mar. 14, 1965)
    p. 18 : ill.
    Newspaper article – Reviews
    ZEVI, Bruno. L´arte dei poveri fa paura ai generali. L´Expresso,  Roma, v.XI, n.11, 14 mar. 1965. p.18.
Editorial Categories [?]

Bruno Zevi discusses the event that prompted the cancellation of Civilização do Nordeste, the exhibition that was to have been presented at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma, as expressly instructed by the Brazilian embassy on orders from the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–85). The title of the Italian historian’s essay “L’arte dei poveri fa paura ai generali” [The art of the poor terrifies the generals] says it all. In Zevi’s opinion the handcrafts produced in northeastern Brazil became national symbols—in the 1960s at the time of the military coup orchestrated by the CIA—as a result of the popular liberation movements led by the so-called Peasant Leagues formed by Miguel Arraes (in Pernambuco). Brazilian intellectuals, such as Lina Bo Bardi, the architect and curator of the exhibition, were keenly interested in these pieces of folk art, seeing them as an expression of a cultural process that reflected Brazil’s tragic situation.

Leia esta sinopse em português

Relato de Bruno Zevi sobre a suspensão da exposição da exposição Civilização do Nordeste, que seria realizada na Galeria de Arte Moderna de Roma, por ordem da diplomacia brasileira, em ação de acordo com o regime militar. Entende que as peças de artesanato do nordeste brasileiro haviam se transformado em símbolos do país, por força dos movimentos de liberação, reunidos nas Ligas Camponesas. O estudo destas peças interessava aos intelectuais brasileiros orientados para um processo cultural radicado na trágica realidade do país.

Revert to English synopsis

In this article the architect Bruno Zevi agrees with his colleague Lina Bo Bardi, who believes that Brazilian folk art should be supported and promoted. He also mentions the censorship of the exhibition Civilização do Nordeste at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna di Roma, on orders from the Brazilian embassy in Italy. Bo Bardi had presented this same exhibition (prior to the military coup in 1964) in Bahia (Museu do Unhão, 1963). After the breakdown of democracy, the Italian-born architect resigned from her position as director of the museum, an institution devoted to the black art and indigenous expression of the northern region of the country. Decades later, she was able to settle the moral score over what happened during her tenure in Bahia (1959–64) in her book: Anos de grossura: o design no impasse [Vulgar Years: Design at a Dead End] (São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro Maria Bardi, 1994). 


The Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi [née, Achillina Bo, 1914–92] moved to northeastern Brazil (1959–64) to support and promote the (traditional) culture in that part of the country. The military coup (1964–85) wiped out all the practical and intellectual advances that had taken her a decade to accomplish.


Lina Bo Bardi did a considerable amount of research into the origins of the art, handcrafts, and what preceded those handcrafts in the northeastern part of the country. The articles in this selection are: by Jorge Amado “Exposição Bahia” (1959) [see the ICAA digital archive (doc. no. 1110903)]; and by Lívio Xavier “O artesanato no Ceará” (1963) (doc. no. 1110900); among the most important articles, there are also some written by Flávio Motta (1970), Abelardo Hora (1963), Celso Furtado (1967), Glauber Rocha (1964), Paulo Gil Soares (1964), and Ariano Suassuna (1963). As complementary reading, see the essay by Lina Bo Bardi “Arte popular” (doc. no. 1110862).


Lina Bo Bardi lived in Salvador (Bahia) from 1959 to 1964, where she was the director of the MAMB (Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia). As had happened at the MASP in São Paulo—where she was in charge of program planning and teaching activities—her work at the MAMB consisted of organizing art history exhibitions and shows for contemporary and international artists representing various movements, and re-evaluating the traditional culture of the Brazilian “northeast.” Bo Bardi organized regular classes on art, music, cinema and theater, and arranged for design and local handcraft workshops. She was a dynamic force in the art field in that part of the country, and helped local artists to make contact with well-known figures in the contemporary arts community. Some years later, at the opening exhibition at the MAP (Museu de Arte Popular), which was built on her initiative at the Solar do Unhão (Salvador, 1963), she explored the ideas that were expressed at the Bahia exhibition that was part of the V Bienal de São Paulo (1959). In her opinion, the exhibition should have been called Civilização do Nordeste; she explained that, in this context, the word ‘civilization’ was understood to mean “the whole of human life” (doc. no. 1110868).

Leia este comentário crítico em português

Trata-se da confirmação da tese de Lina Bo Bardi pelo arquiteto Bruno Zevi, que evidencia o episódio de proibição de exposição de arte popular brasileira, na cidade de Roma. A exposição organizada e montada por Lina Bardi foi anteriormente exibida no Museu do Unhão na Bahia, em 1963. E Lina deixaria a direção do Museu em 1964, após o golpe milititar.

Ver testemunho de Lina Bo Bardi sobre o período em que trabalhou no Nordeste brasileiro, de 1959 a 1964, na coletânea: BARDI, Lina Bo Anos de Grossura: o design no impasse. São Paulo, Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro Maria Bardi, 1994. 


Ver também:
- "Bahia", 21 setembro a 31 de dezembro de 1959. V Bienal. Ibirapuera, São Paulo, - foi a primeira grande exposição de arte popular nordestina, organizada por Lina Bardi e Martim Gonçalves, com texto de Jorge Amado.
-"Civilização do Nordeste", exposição no Museu de Arte Popular do Unhão, Salvador. 1963


d0- Artesanato e arte popular

Revert to English annotations
Equipe Brasil: Ana Maria Moraes Belluzzo
FAPESP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Instituto Lina Bo e Pietro Maria Bardi