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Oscar Niemeyer ’s Brasilia

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When one thinks of Brazil, one generally thinks of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, the Carnival, the beautiful beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, capirinhas and soft rhythms of bossa nova.  Yet, Brazil also brings images of beautiful architecture, and one Brazil’s most celebrated architects, Oscar Niemeyer.

Oscar Niemeyer ’s flowing designs infused Modernism with a new sensuality and captured the imaginations of generations of architects around the world.  He was among the last of a long line of Modernist true believers who stretch from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to the architects who defined the postwar architecture of the late 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

Niemeyer is best known for designing the government buildings of Brasília, a sprawling new capital carved out of the Brazilian savanna that became an emblem both of Latin America’s leap into modernity and, later, of the limits of Modernism’s utopian aspirations.  Designed to be a utopian city of the future, young Brasília (founded on April 21, 1960) was the result of a collaboration between three native talents: architect Oscar Niemeyer, architect and urban planner Lucio Costa, and landscape designer Roberto Burle Marx.

Niemeyer’s curvaceous, lyrical, hedonistic forms helped shape a distinct national architecture and a modern identity for Brazil that broke with its colonial and baroque past.  Yet his influence extended far beyond his country.  Even his lesser works were a counterpoint to reductive notions of Modernist architecture as blandly functional.

“Niemeyer’s Brasilia”, the series of night photographs that capture the surreal architecture of Oscar Niemeyer in Brazilian capital by architectural photographer Andrew Prokos are among this year’s winners at the International Photography Awards 2013 competition. (the photos shown in this blog post are the award winning photos by Andrew Prokos)

“I became fascinated by Oscar Niemeyer’s buildings as works of art in themselves, and the fact that Niemeyer had unprecedented influence over the architecture of the capital during his long lifetime” said photographer Andrew Prokos. Niemeyer, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 104, was Brazil’s best known architect and the designer of the United Nations buildings in New York.

Next time you are in Brazil, visiting the beautiful beaches or Rio, take a day trip to iconic Brasilia as well.

Books on Oscar Niemeyer in our library:


Oscar Niemeyer (Taschen’s Architecture Now!);
– Oscar Niemeyer Buildings,
Oscar Niemeyer: Curves of Irreverence, and
Curves of Time: The Memoirs of Oscar Niemeyer.

Related blog post:

– Architecture Inspired Jewelry by Oscar Niemeyer .


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