After being awarded the Grand Prize for his metal sculpture Dreiteilige Einheit [Tripartite Unity] (1950) at the Primera Bienal de São Paulo (1951), an event he was unable to attend, Max Bill (1908–94), the Swiss painter, sculptor, and architect, was finally able to travel to Brazil at the invitation of the Ministério das Relações Exteriores. He agreed to be interviewed by the architect and art critic Flávio d’Aquino, and the transcript of their conversation was published in Manchete, a weekly magazine with a large circulation and, some months later, in HABITAT, the magazine that was edited by Lina Bo Bardi. Both the interview and the lecture that the Swiss architect gave at the Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade in São Paulo caused something of a stir among Brazilian architects. Max Bill radically questioned the type of (Brazilian) formalism that does not commit to the form’s logic of creation, or to what he calls architecture’s “social function.” This is the basis of the debate that began with the indignant article written by Lúcio Costa (1902–98), the Brazilian architect and urban planner who was best known for planning the country’s new capital, Brasilia (1956–61).
In reference to this matter, see by Flávio d’Aquino, “Max Bill Max Bill critica a nossa moderna arquitetura,” Manchete, Rio de Janeiro, 13 jun. 1953; by Max Bill, “O arquiteto, a arquitetura, a sociedade,” Habitat, n.14, São Paulo, jan./feb. 1954; and by Eduardo Corona, “O testamento tripartido de Max Bill,” A & D: Arquitetura e Decoração, n.4, São Paulo, mar. /apr. 1954.