Poet of his Own Life

The work and philosophy of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx is on display at the Jewish Museum

East Highlight Landscape Architecture
Banco Safra HQ (Courtesy Leonardo Finotti)
Banco Safra HQ (Courtesy Leonardo Finotti)

Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist is a retrospective exhibition that looks at the life and work of landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Born from a German father and a Brazilian mother, Marx, along with the likes of Oscar Niemeyer, adopted the ideals of the growing modernist movement in Brazil. Despite becoming an esteemed figure within the 20th century landscape architectural scene, today Marx is seldom recognized outside his homeland. His dedicated exhibition at the Jewish Museum seeks to change that, showcasing his modernist philosophy through a series of his drawings, photographs, textiles, jewelry, theater sets, costumes, ceramics, and stained glass. The selected works are intended to embody not only Marx’s modernist principles, but also his own ethos. During his 60-year career, Marx sought to mitigate the loss of the primeval garden and repair the rift between humanity and nature. As a result, his gardens (he produced more than 2,000) encouraged self-reflection while using artistic devices to address political issues such as ecology. In the exhibition, they are depicted as works of art, compiling abstract linear forms such as flat planes and using bold colors. The self-described “poet of his own life,” also left a legacy of influence, which the exhibition displays through a collection of Latin American artists born after 1950.

Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist is at the The Jewish Museum1109 Fifth Ave at 92nd St., through September 18, 2016.

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