Oscar Niemeyer

Niemeyer's National Congress of Brazil Niemeyer's National Congress of Brazil

Oscar Niemeyer died in December 2012 at the age of 104. You've probably never heard of him but like most centenarians, his is quite a story. He was an extraordinary architect whose career spawned and spanned an epic arch of architectural history. Moreover, his career intertwines with the history of Brazil offering valuable perspective (as only Art History can) to the compelling political and social history of that great nation. The breadth and originality of his work is staggering by any standard.

Architecture is often an exercise in intricacy and detail but Niemeyer's work, featuring basic forms, is often astonishingly bold and simple. Amongst his better known works, The Congress Building in Brasilia features two bowls, one upside down, the other right side up giving meaning instantly in the most basic binary way. Many of his works feature gravity defying monumental plastic forms stemming from his fearless use of reinforced concrete. While Niemeyer's work has broad stylistic appeal, his biographies frequently cite the evident influence of Brazilian culture and landscape. His work often features water and interior gardens. For more information check out these two books:

Oscar Niemeyer Buildings by
Hess, Alan and Weintraub, Alan

Oscar Niemeyer: Curves of Irreverence by
Philippou, Styliane