At the Americas Society exhibition, visitors are greeted at the entrance by an enlarged photograph of Bo Bardi standing in the living room of the Glass House she designed for herself and her husband, the critic, curator and museum director Pietro Bardi, after they settled in São Paulo. The MoMA exhibition features the same house, as well as Bo Bardi’s projects for the São Paulo Art Museum, the Pompeia Leisure Center and the Solar do Unhão complex in Salvador, and the Americas Society exhibition also includes her modernized version of a traditional wooden chair from Bahia that has origins in Africa. ... At MoMA, Bo Bardi’s Glass House is part of a section that focuses on the homes that globally prominent architects, like the Mexicans Luis Barragán and Juan O’Gorman and the Brazilian Paulo Mendes da Rocha, built for themselves. That makes a point central to architecture in the region: In developing countries with vast open spaces, and that were late in urbanizing, architects could give free rein to their imaginations in ways they could not in centuries-old cities in Europe or even in the eastern United States.

Lina Bo Bardi in her Glass House in São Paulo, Brazil.
Lina Bo Bardi in her Glass House in São Paulo, Brazil. © Chico Albuquerque/Convenio Museu da Imagem e do Som- SP/Instituto Moreira Salles

The reference to “New Territories” in the title of the Museum of Arts and Design exhibition was potentially dangerous because it could imply to Latin Americans that only now is their creativity being “discovered,” à la Columbus. But Lowery Stokes Sims, the museum’s chief curator, said that “new territories” was being used not in a geographic sense but to refer to new genres, strategies and materials that were being incorporated into artistic production.