Athos and Oscar

Follow the story of this encounter of visions, space and distance.

By Fundação Athos Bulcão

In the Três Poderes

The partnership between the artist Athos Bulcão (1918-2008) and the architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) left a legacy of the most successful examples of the integration of different arts in the panorama of modern Brazilian architecture.

Studies Study for chapel ceiling. Alvorada Palace, Brasília - DF (1959) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Common features

Brasilia was the place where their relationship gave rise to masterpieces, but their work can be seen in several other cities in Brazil and around the world.

Pintura do forro, Capela Nossa Senhora da Conceição, Palácio da Alvorada, Brasília - DF (1959) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Treliça em madeira e ferro pintado, Sala dos Tratados, Palácio do Itamaraty, Brasília - DF (1967) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em mármore branco, hall principal, Palácio do Itamaraty, Brasília - DF (1966) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo com placas de mármore bege, Superior Tribunal Federal, Brasília - DF (1969) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Painel de azulejos, Salão Verde, Câmara dos Deputados, Brasília - DF (1971) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

The Beginning

Following the example of so many other Brazilian artists of the time, Athos Bulcão went to study in Paris, between 1948 and 1950, with a scholarship from the French government. Back in Rio, he worked on book and magazine illustrations and theater scenery ...

Painel em alumínio, metal esmaltado e vidro espelhado preto, Plenária Ulysses Guimarães, Câmara dos Deputados (1974) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

A Turning Point

It was years later, in 1958, that there came the great turning point of his career when he moved to Brasilia to work on Oscar Niemeyer's projects in France, Italy, Algeria, in addition to the construction of the new capital.

Marília Panitz

Painel divisório em madeira laqueada brilhante na cor vermelha, Salão Nobre do Senado Federal (1978) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

An Opportunity

I really started by drawing on pictures and paintings. The person who brought me the opportunity to work on architectural projects was Oscar Niemeyer. That was a long time ago [...]

Forro composto de chapas de alumínio fixadas em malha metálica, Plenário do Senado Federal (1974) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Towards the Central Plateau

From 1955 I had already started to collaborate on Oscar's buildings and then came Brasilia … 

Painel em mármore branco e granito preto, Senado Federal (1960) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Thinking about the City

And Brasília, then, showed us we could work permanently on projects for the new capital.”

Athos Bulcão

Painel em latão, hall do Palácio da Alvorada, Brasília - DF (1958) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em madeira pintada, cinema na residência da vice-presidência da República, Palácio do Jaburu (1975) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em mármore e granito, residência da vice-presidência da República, Palácio do Jaburu (1975) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Marks on Brasilia's landscape

In addition to government buildings, the partnership between Athos and Oscar entered the daily life of the new capital, integrating buildings of every kind: religious, cultural and commercial. Brasilia becomes an open-air museum.

Painel de azulejos, Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima, Brasília - DF (1957) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Meet-ups

I used to draw at Burle Marx's house, used to help him stretch canvases, do very artisanal things, learning to paint on canvas, with training from Portinari’s people.”

Painel de azulejos, Igrejinha Nossa Senhora de Fátima, Brasília - DF (1957) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

What is this?

"I was doing some gouache drawings one day and Oscar came in to talk to Roberto about something, and he said: "What's that? I replied. And he said: "Ah, what a beautiful thing. Let's make a tile out of it".

Painel de azulejos, Brasília Palace Hotel, Brasília - DF (1958) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Oscar as Teacher

"It was Oscar who guided me a lot in the beginning with problems of visuality, space, distance, which I learned from him."

Pintura mural, Brasília Palace Hotel (1958) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Architectural Railroad

"He once said that Lúcio Costa put him on the road, on the rails, of how to draw. And it was Oscar who set me on the right track in this part of architectural thinking<. "Athos Bulcão.”

Athos Bulcão

Relevo em concreto pintado de branco, Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro, Brasília - DF (1966) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em mármore branco, Sala Villa-Lobos, Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro, Brasília - DF (1976) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Painel com função acústica, Sala Villa-Lobos, Teatro Nacional Cláudio Santoro, Brasília - DF (1978) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo de concreto e chapas metálicas, pintados na cor vermelha, Edifício Denasa, Brasília - DF (1975) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em madeira e laminado polivinílico, Cine Brasília (1976) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em mármore branco e granito preto, Câmara Mortuária, Memorial JK (1981) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Relevo em mármore branco e granito preto, Câmara Mortuária, Memorial JK (1981) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Works all over Brazil, the first

The first meeting between the artist and the architect took place in 1943, when Oscar commissioned Athos to design the external tiles for the Municipal Theatre of Belo Horizonte. The project remained unfinished and the panel was never made. But the partnership was resumed in 1955, with the creation of the external tiling for the current Lagoa Hospital, in Rio de Janeiro.

Painel de azulejos, Hospital da Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro - RJ (1955) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

An Integrated Vision

"From the experience with Oscar Niemeyer, in the work of architectural integration, Athos was able to assimilate all the knowledge, vocabulary and objectivity of modern architecture, combined with a spark of lyricism and sensibility."Fernando Cocchiarale

Fernando Cocchiarale

Painel de azulejos, Hospital da Lagoa, Rio de Janeiro - RJ (1955) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

A Lasting Partnership

The partnership between Athos and Oscar lasted from the mid-1950s until the end of the 20th century.

Fachada em ladrilho hidráulico, Ed. Niemeyer, Belo Horizonte (1960) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Painel de azulejos, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro - RJ (1962) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Painel de azulejos, Sambódromo, Rio de Janeiro - RJ (1983) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

A Composer

Sometimes I compare us to Fellini and Nino Rota. Nino Rota made up for something lacking. The important thing was the movie, but the music was important too."

Relevo em madeira pintada, Teatro Estadual de Araras, Araras - SP (1991) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Complements

"For a while, I felt like Nino Rota, with Oscar Niemeyer as Fellini."

Painel de azulejos, Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo - SP (1988) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

The music of space

"I was providing a musical accompaniment that had to be included in the work."

Athos Bulcão

Credits: Story

Athos Bulcão Foundation

Marília Panitz. The Imagination of Athos Bulcão. Catalog of the Exhibition ‘100 Years of Athos Bulcão’. Bank of Brazil Cultural Center, 2018-2019. 


Quotes from Athos Bulcão and Fernando Cocchiarale:
Documentary "Athos Bulcão - Uma Trajetória Plural “(1998). Director: Malu de Martino. 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Explore Brasília
From architecture to art, get a new perspective on Brazil's capital
View theme
Google apps