Palm Springs Art Museum Surveys Dialogue Between Two Modernist Designers

Surveying the compelling synergy between two midcentury modern designers, Albert Frey and Lina Bo Bardi: A Search for Living Architecture is currently on view at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Albert Frey, Frey House II, Palm Springs, CA, 1963-64, view from the southeast, photograph by François Halard, 1995, Courtesy François Halard

Lina Bo Bardi, Bardi House (Casa de vidro), São Paulo, Brazil, 1949-1952, view from the northeast, photograph by Nelson Kon, 2002, Courtesy Nelson Kon

While the two designers never met—Bo Bardi emigrated from Italy to Brazil in 1946 and Albert Frey from Switzerland to the United States in 1930—the duo’s personal and professional journeys are evocative of the architectural and cultural contexts of São Paulo and Southern California.

Lina Bo Bardi, Bardi House (Casa de vidro), São Paulo, Brazil, 1949-1952, Lina on entrance stairway, photograph by Francisco Albuquerque, 1952, Courtesy Instituto Lina Bo e P. M. Bardi

“The parallel odysseys of Frey and Bo Bardi represent the emergence of Southern California and São Paulo, as architectural laboratories of the mid-20th century,” said Elizabeth Armstrong, Palm Springs Art Museum’s JoAnn McGrath Executive Director. “Although they never met, this exhibition shows how they each embraced the social and environmental contexts specific to their respective adoptive homes.”

A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, Kocher Canvas Weekend House, Northport, NY, 1934, photograph by F.S. Lincoln © Special Collections, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

The exhibition uses 3-D models, drawings, design objects, furniture, and photographs to convey Frey and Bo Bardi’s shared philosophies on using architecture as a tool to connect people with nature. Included in the exhibition is Arper’s Bowl Chair—a semi spherical seat resting on a metallic ring structure supported by four legs—that was designed by Bo Bardi in 1951.

Bardi’s Bowl Chair Casa de Vidro. Courtesy Ruy Texeira

Lina Bo Bardi sitting on the chair. Courtesy Francisco Albuquerque

“Both Frey and Bo Bardi were interested in re-imagining architecture via the transformation of the modern house,” said the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Director of Art Daniell Cornell. “Presented here together for the first time, these structures convey departure points for understanding the evolving concept of Living Architecture…As Frey and Bo Bardi embraced modern technologies, they responded to the climate and terrain of their respective environments, and the people whose lives were shaped by those conditions.”

Albert Frey and Lina Bo Bardi: A Search for Living Architecture will be on display through January 7, 2018.

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