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Rio Shows Oscar Niemeyers’s Best and Unpublished

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer The first posthumous exhibit dedicated to architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) has come to Paço Imperial – once Rio de Janeiro’s Imperial Palace – and features over 300 pieces displayed in eight rooms, in a space of over a 1,000m².

The exhibit is entitled “Oscar Niemeyer: the Classic and the Unpublished”, and takes visitors on a tour through all of the work and history of Brazil’s biggest name in modern architecture.

Pieces range from blueprints, sketches, and framed designs to scale models, photographs, videos, and never-before-seen projects found in notebooks from the archives of the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation.

The notebooks have been digitalized by the organization in partnership with the Instituto Itaú Cultural.

“The purpose of this exhibit is to bring to light projects that, for a range of reasons, never left the paper,” said the curator, Lauro Cavalcanti.

Director of Paço Imperial and also an architect himself, Cavalcanti says the exhibit provides a glimpse of how Niemeyer conceived, designed, wrote and monitored the development of his projects.

“He would put his visual options into writing, in texts he called ‘necessary explanations.’ In case he came across clearness or synthesis difficulties, he would return to his drawing board and redesign the project,” he explains.

Among the unpublished projects are the houses designed for writer Oswald de Andrade and historian Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, in São Paulo, not to mention the city plan of Negev, in Israel, which the architect conceived in 1964. “Negev was meant to be traversed on foot, with narrow streets, as in medieval cities,” Cavalcanti notes.

Niemeyer’s most emblematic works, the ones that achieved world-wide renown, have also found a place in the exhibit. There are, for instance, scale models of the Pampulha Church, the Cathedral of Brasília and the seat of the French Communist Party, in Paris.

One of the rooms was specially dedicated to Niemeyer’s designs for the city of Rio de Janeiro, some of which were never executed, like the National Olympic Stadium, turned down by the judging commission of a contest held in 1941, which selected another project, referred to today as Maracanã.

The exhibit also includes two films: Henri Raillard’s Oscar Niemeyer – O Filho das Estrelas (Oscar Niemeyer – The Son of the Stars), in which Niemeyer himself tells little known stories about his life, and Oscar Niemeyer – A Vida É um Sopro (Oscar Niemeyer – Life is a Whiff), which shows images of works like the Palácio do Planalto (Brazil’s presidential residence) and the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (in Rio de Janeiro state), alternated with testimonials from acclaimed figures like José Saramago, Eduardo Galeano, Ferreira Gullar and Chico Buarque.



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