The Cultura Artística fire – A sad story with a happy ending in the making

By , May 13, 2010 11:07 am

On August 17th, 2008 the city of São Paulo woke up to the tragic news that one of its most prestigious theaters had been completely destroyed by fire, except for its façade. Since its inaugural concert conducted by the composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, in 1950, Cultura Artística had been a staple in the cultural history of the city.

While fire reduced the theater to ashes, the mosaic mural titled “Allegory of the Arts” survived the ordeal practically unscathed. Most probably, the firefighters who struggled to save the building façade did not know they were preserving a work of art valued in more than US$2.5 million.

“Allegory of the Arts” is one of the crown jewels of Vidrotil. To date this superb mosaic ranks as the largest public mural in São Paulo. Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, one of Brazil’s greatest artists, designed this 157-ft. by 28-ft. scene to be rendered at the then three-year-old Vidrotil mosaic workshop. At the time, it took our company’s mosaic artists two months just to set the more than 500,000 glass tesserae that compose the design. Upon its dedication above the theater entrance, this splendid mural not only became one of São Paulo’s landmarks, but also definitely garnered a reputation for Vidrotil among artists and architects.

In 2008, when faced with the decision of whether or not to reerect Cultura Artística, its Board of Trustees chose not to.  Instead, they commissioned architect Paulo Bruna with a new and ambitious project that will expand the theater’s capacity and modernize its facilities. Thanks to fundraising proceedings, the rebuilding efforts started in March 2010 and the venue is scheduled to reopen in 2012.

We at Vidrotil are proud to collaborate in the restoration of such a meaningful work of art and happy to see our most important mosaic mural providing the cornerstone for the new Cultura Artística theater.

To see more of Di Cavalcanti’s art, click here.

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