Abstract and Concrete

Oscar Niemeyer, the Modernist behind modern Brazil

By Google Arts & Culture

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum 3 (2020-08-12/2020-08-12) by Gláuber Sampaio

Curves inspired by nature, abstract shapes, and reinforced concrete characterize the work of Oscar Niemeyer, whose Modernist architecture forms an exuberant amalgam with the landscape but also highlights Brazil's diversity.

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Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum

Niterói Contemporary Museum

The Niterói Contemporary Museum, also known as the MAC, is said to be one of Niemeyer’s favorite projects. The MAC was specifically conceived to host the hefty contemporary art collection of João Sattamini, one of the leading art collectors of Brazil.

The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, completed in 1996 after five years of construction, is surrounded by a 817 m² water mirror and the floors are covered with 3,000 m² of blue carpet, which beautifully contrasts with the exterior red concrete ramp.

Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum 5, Azzedine Rouchi, 2021-01-29/2021-01-29
Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum 2, Gláuber Sampaio, 2020-08-12/2020-08-12
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Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum 4 (2020-08-12/2020-08-12) by Gláuber Sampaio

Located on a cliffside that dominates the Guanabara Bay, with spectacular views of Rio de Janeiro and Niterói.

The futuristic flying saucer shape of the building and its serpetinuous red ramp are the most distinctive features of this museum that houses around 1,500 pieces of contemporary art.

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Cathedral of Brasilia

Cathedral of Brasília

Oscar Niemeyer was one of the great planners of Brasília, Brazil’s new capital built from scratch in just four years and inaugurated in 1960. He designed more than 25 buildings in Brasília and regarded the cathedral as one of his best works.

This Catholic church, dedicated to Our Lady of Aparecida, is mostly set underground, but curiously enough its hyperbolic crown-shaped structure is an iconic element of the skyline of Brasília.

Cathedral of Brazilia 3, Wellington Ferreira, 2020-08-25/2020-08-25
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Cathedral of Brazilia 2 (2020-04-28/2020-04-28) by Wellington Ferreira

The astonishing exterior matches the impressive stained glass ceiling of the nave, where ​​three suspended sculptures of angels hover at different heights.

The hyperbolic structure of the crown-shaped cathedral , most of which is set underground, is surrounded by a pool and guarded by four three-meter bronze sculptures of the Evangelists

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Capela Curial de Sao Francisco de Assis

Church of Saint Francis of Assisi

The Pampulha Modern Ensemble, a complex of four buildings constructed around an artificial lake, was Oscar Niemeyer’s first major project. The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi marked the start of Neimayer’s characteristic style.

The church, completed in 1943, was particularly controversial for its time, and even rejected. Its parabolic vault, often compared to a hangar, has a shape that had already been used in construction but not in religious architecture.

However, this temple has since become a symbol of Belo Horizonte.

Church of Saint Francis of Assis 1 (2017-11-01/2017-11-01) by Paulo Baqueta

The Church of Saint Francis of Assisi marked the start of Niemayer’s characteristic style.

 The Pampulha Modern Ensemble (where the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi is) is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Church of Saint Francis of Assis 2 (2017-11-01/2017-11-01) by Paulo Baqueta

Oscar Niemeyer connected his innovative constructions to the natural landscapes and Brazil’s sociocultural context, reflecting not just the modernist architectural style but the modernity of the country.

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