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Museum of Modern Art Rio de Janeiro, 1958

Valeria Carullo

Affonso Eduardo Reidy’s Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro

Credit: Architectural Press Archive / Riba Library Photographs Collection

The Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro was designed by one of the great Brazilian modernist architects, Affonso Eduardo Reidy (1909-1964), credited by many for creatively adapting Le Corbusier’s ideas and use of concrete to the Brazilian landscape and traditions. The photograph, taken in 1958, shows the spectacular view of the ‘Sugar Loaf’ Mountain and the Guanabara Bay offered by the wall to ceiling glazing of the future restaurant in the administration building, here used as a temporary exhibition space while the actual museum was being built. The same uninterrupted views would be a defining feature of the museum gallery, which had been designed as a very large space devoid of intermediate pillars or fixed partitions, so as to provide maximum flexibility for the display of exhibits. The museum had been conceived as a low, horizontal volume whose presence would not compete with the magnificent surrounding landscape. It was part of a complex that included the aforementioned administration building and a theatre, all set within a landscaped park designed by Roberto Burle-Marx on land recently reclaimed from the sea.