Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994) has an exhibition coming up at the Jewish Museum, Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist (New York, May 6 – September 18, 2016). The Brazilian artist was a landscape architect, though he branched out into our neck of the woods with stunning tile and mural works. The announcement of his New York show, therefore, left us feeling as though there was a gap in our ceramics coverage. Consider this FotoFile us making up for lost time as we look back at his amazing career. We’re supporting the photographs with the illuminating text from the Jewish Museum. We can’t wait to see more of what they have in store. In the meantime enjoy Marx’s signature work on the Copacabana boardwalk and three separate garden tile murals.
Marx is one of the most prominent landscape architects of the 20th century. His famous projects range from the remarkable mosaic pavements on the seaside avenue of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach to the multitude of gardens that embellish Brasilia, one of several-large scale projects he executed in collaboration with famed architect Oscar Niemeyer. Although his landscape design work is renowned worldwide, the artist’s work in other media remains little known. Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist explores the richness and breadth of the artist’s oeuvre—from landscape architecture to painting, from sculpture to theater design, from tapestries to jewelry.
The son of a German-Jewish father and a Brazilian mother of French, Portuguese, and Dutch descent, Burle Marx embraced modernism in the early 1930s as the movement was taking hold in his country among artists and intellectuals. Using abstraction as his guiding principle, and grand sweeps of voluminous local foliage and colorful flora as his palette, Burle Marx devised a whole new form of landscape expression, revolutionizing garden design. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, gardens in Brazil had primarily followed French models, featuring a symmetrical layout and imported flora. Burle Marx, on the other hand, did away with symmetry and advocated for the use of native plants, making numerous incursions into the Brazilian jungle throughout his lifetime in search of rare species. He was a horticulturist and a pioneer ecologist who only used plants suitable to the environment and was one of the first to speak out against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Throughout a more than 60-year career, Burle Marx designed over 2,000 gardens worldwide and discovered more than 30 plant species that now bear his name, while never ceasing to paint, sculpt, and design textiles. He was also an art collector, a talented baritone, and a consummate cook—a veritable humanist and Renaissance man, bursting with creativity.
Brazilian Modernist presents over one hundred works by Burle Marx, demonstrating the versatility of his extraordinary talents, from his earliest forays into landscape architecture to never-before-seen seen designs for synagogues and other Jewish sites he created late in life. A number of international contemporary artists who have been inspired by Burle Marx will also be featured in the exhibition, including Juan Araujo, Paloma Bosquê, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Luisa Lambri, Arto Lindsay, Nick Mauss, and Beatriz Milhazes.
Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernistis organized by Jens Hoffmann, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Public Programs, and Claudia J. Nahson, Morris and Eva Feld Curator, with Rebecca Shaykin, Leon Levy Assistant Curator.
After its presentation at the Jewish Museum, New York, the exhibition will travel to the Deutsche Bank Kunst Halle in Berlin, Germany, and the Museu de Arte do Rio in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Text (edited) courtesy of The Jewish Museum.
What do you think of Marx’s contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.