Oscar Niemeyer, architect of the 20th Century’s most famous modernist buildings, dies aged 104
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed some of the 20th Century’s most famous modernist buildings, has died just before his 105th birthday.
Oscar Niemeyer rose to international fame as the architect of the main government buildings in the futuristic Brazilian capital, Brasilia, inaugurated in 1960.
He also worked with Swiss-born modernist architect Le Corbusier on the UN building in New York.
He continued to work on new projects until earlier this year.
Oscar Niemeyer died on Wednesday at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro.
A memorial service will be held in the presidential palace in Brasilia on Thursday.
Oscar Niemeyer’s family was informed of the honor in a phone call from President Dilma Rousseff.
“Brazil has lost today one of its geniuses, It is a day to lament his death. It is a day to acclaim his life.”
Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor Eduardo Paes has declared three days of mourning in Oscar Niemeyer’s home city.
It is thought he will be buried there on Friday.
Oscar Niemeyer started his career in the 1930s, when Brazil was still copying neoclassical European architecture and designing ornate palace-like buildings.
His bold futuristic designs in Brasilia made the new capital a dramatic statement of confidence in the future of Brazil, and an icon of modern architecture.
A student of Le Corbusier, he developed a distinctive style defined by stark concrete and sweeping curves.
He famously once said the stylized swoops in his buildings were inspired by the curves of Brazilian women.
“When you have a large space to conquer, the curve is the natural solution,” he said.
“I once wrote a poem about the curve. The curve I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean and on the body of the beloved woman.”
A firm communist – and a personal friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro – Oscar Niemeyer fled the country during Brazil’s military dictatorship and forged an international career while in exile in France.
In 1988, Oscar Niemeyer was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize.
His style was not to everyone’s taste, and for a communist some people say his work was not very people-friendly – focusing more on the architecture’s form than on its inhabitants or functionality.
Oscar Niemeyer went on to create more than 600 buildings around the world. His legacy endures in museums, monuments, schools and churches in Brazil and beyond.
Many of the designs were initially sketched on a table overlooking his beloved Rio de Janeiro and its famous Copacabana beach, replete with the women, waves and hills from which he drew such inspiration.
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