Oscar Niemeyer at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasilia (1964 circa) by David Drew Zingg Instituto Moreira Salles
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, Oscar Niemeyer was a Brazilian architect who is considered to be one of the key figures in the development of modern architecture. Among his many projects, Niemeyer is best known for his designs of civic buildings of Brasília—a planned city that became Brazil’s capital in 1960.
Niemeyer was highly influential in the late 20th and early 21st centuries for his explorations with reinforced concrete and often whimsical ideas in his projects. The architect was partly influenced by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, who broke away from historical architectural styles and wanted to create buildings that were purely functional and new. In contrast to Le Corbusier, Niemeyer’s approach saw him favor curves and abstract forms over straight lines and inflexible shapes “created by man”.
Unlike many of his peers, Niemeyer was never a scholar or interested in theories, jargon, or clichés. Though he had strongly held political views and was a noted communist, unlike some other Modernists they were not especially apparent in his work. His goal was simple: give beauty to the world.
After his death in 2012, Niemeyer left the world with more than 500 works scattered throughout the Americas, Africa, and Europe. Here we take a tour of some of his most significant works and the impact they had on the places they were built.
Oscar Niemeyer at the Cathedral of Brasilia by David Drew Zing (From the collection of Instituto Moreira Salles)
Gustavo Capanema Palace, Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Curitiba, Brazil
Cathedral of Brasília, Brasília, Brazil
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Edifício Copan, São Paulo, Brazil
Palácio do Planalto, Brasília, Brazil
Cláudio Santoro National Theater, Brasília, Brazil
National Congress building, Brasília, Brazil
Complexo Cultural da República, Brasília, Brazil
French communist headquarters, Paris, France
Oscar Niemeyer Cultural Center, Asturias, Spain
Brasilia Digital TV Tower, Brasilia, Brazil