In 1936, Roberto Marinho bought land in Cosme Velho – on the slopes of Corcovado – and built a house to raise his family and watch his children grow up.
But the property – inspired by the old Solar do Megaípe, a neocolonial construction on the outskirts of Recife in the 17th century – was much more than that: it was there where Roberto Marinho received presidents and foreign dignitaries, interviewed future ministers and organized Rede Globo events.
“When Rio was the capital, the city received authorities from other countries, and dinners were almost always here,” said architect and anthropologist Lauro Cavalcanti. “It was a very active household.”
After Roberto Marinho’s death in 2003, his wife continued to live there for a few more years. But in 2014, with the house already empty, the children decided to open the doors of the place where they grew up to the public.
João Roberto, José Roberto and Roberto Irineu transformed the house into a cultural space and a place to house the collection that their father built over decades.
In the garden, with landscaping by Burle Marx, there are installations by Carlos Vergara, Ascânio MMM, and bronzes by Maria Martins.
Inside, Roberto Marinho’s personal collection, composed of more than 1,000 works and with a predominance of Brazilian modernism and non-geometric abstractionism, including Tarsila do Amaral, Di Cavalcanti, Cândido Portinari and José Pancetti.
Roberto mainly bought artists from his generation, who at the time were emerging – a generation that, each in their own way, wanted to build a modern Brazil.
“There was a very good understanding from Rio de Janeiro and the Public Power that the House is a benefit, a gift for the city of Rio, which has suffered so much from not so glorious moments,” he said Lauro Cavalcanti, who was invited by Roberto’s children to run the space after command of the Imperial Palace for 20 years.
By conceiving the House as a cultural space, Roberto’s heirs They intended to create a place of excellence with good exhibitions at affordable prices (many are even free).
“We also wanted to create a place to stay, where people would want to go for a walk or have a coffee,” said Lauro. “There’s no point in having great programming and being a hostile space.”
It has worked.
Since its opening, Casa Roberto Marinho has received around 200 people a day and has held more than 30 exhibitions, always creating a dialogue between invited works and works from the collection.
“This house is a compliment to memory,” said collector Ronaldo Cezar Coelho, who has already lent a Djanira, a Calder and a Pancetti for exhibitions at the house. “The successors had the greatness and vision to invest in preserving this legacy, and this is an example for other private collections, otherwise the collection becomes a selfish exercise in accumulation.”
Until March 24th, the house is exhibiting Conversations between Collectionsin which six private collections – including those of the Fainziliber and Luis Antonio de Almeida Braga families – dialogue with the house’s collection.
“It is a reaffirmation of how a country’s culture cannot depend solely and exclusively on the State. Private collections need to be exposed,” said Cavalcanti.
Among the 1,000 works in the House, however, there is one that Roberto Marinho said was his favorite: a Pancetti that depicts a doll stretched out on the floor (photo above).
Next to the painting, on the second floor of the house, there is an explanation from the businessman as to why the work moved him so much:
“My secret passion for this painting can perhaps be explained by the fact that I see it as a symbol of the solitary moment in which the boy draws, with the colors of purity, the future of the man he will one day be.”
With his newspaper and radio already consolidated, Roberto Marinho only created TV Globo at the age of 61. The boy had already become a man, and would still build a great future.