Schusev State
Museum of Architecture

Oscar Niemeyer. Poetry of Form

 

Combining the architectural principles of Le Corbusier with the cultural reality of Brazil, the wild sensuality of the tropics with his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Oscar Niemeyer (born December 15, 1907) created an original architectural style, based on the malleable freedom and splendor of form, exploring fully the possibilities of reinforced concrete, his main construction material. Already in the 1940s, in his project for a sports-entertainment complex in Pampulha, Niemeyer astonished the international architectural community with his rejection of the prevailing formal-rationalistic orientation of modernism and his turn toward an architecture that was full of fantasy and unexpected solutions. In the 1960s Niemeyer was engaged in planning the main public buildings for the new Brazilian capital, Brasília. Today, this project remains the most complex and complete modernist ensemble in the world and it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the 1960s to today, Niemeyer has created many great projects, both in Brazil and in other countries. All of these projects belong to a more lyrical direction of modernism, rooted in the plasticity of sensuality. In formal terms, Niemeyer adapted the principles of the “International Style” to the exotic vernacular reality of the tropics, developing a series of solutions based primarily on the wide use of curvilinear forms. Niemeyer’s most important contributions to contemporary architecture lie in his dedication to the idea of creative freedom, in the value he placed on individual talent, and in his understanding that architecture is, above all, an artistic expression of the achievements of man. Beauty to Niemeyer is a tool for aesthetic impact that has the potential to assert itself in a political way. There are echoes of his professional approach in Niemeyer’s personal ideology, which has long defined his public and private life in what was a difficult period in the political history of Brazil. Niemeyer continually spoke out for the need to reconcile the economic and social contradictions characteristic of capitalist society in general, but especially visible in developing countries. As a result, Niemeyer’s life as an architect was closely tied to his life as an intellectual, in which he advocated not just to defend the interests of Brazil, but of Latin America as a whole. This brought him in close contact with political leaders, such as Fidel Castro and, in his later years, Hugo Chavez. The exhibition “Poetry of Form” at the Museum of Architecture presents drafts, drawings, texts, photographs, and models, all representative of the creative work of this outstanding artistic figure of our time. With this exhibit, Moscow comes together in friendship with the cities of the world in celebration of December 15, 2007, the one-hundredth birthday of Oscar Niemeyer.

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