So, legend of the architect world Oscar Niemeyer has died and it is sad news indeed. He lived to a ripe old age though, 104, and has left a legacy of curvy buildings inspired by the female form that populate Brazil’s capital, Brasília, and beyond.
Famed for his passion and love of a good time, he was the party man of the Modernists (and Postmodernists), bringing an element of fun and emotion to his sculptural designs. He worked alongside Le Corbusier on the UN buildings in New York and his designs for Brasília earned the city a Unesco World Heritage status. He was also a lifelong communist and built the Communist Party headquarters in Paris, while also acknowledging that lots of his buildings were the province of the rich, but he hoped the less well-off would take pleasure in his work too.
To honor his passing we’ve selected a few choice quotes from his long career (a lot of them involve him talking about curves and women), mixed in with images of his work. So enjoy his wisdom and his vision, now that he’s gone to the great, curved glass building in the sky.
You can check out our Original Creator post on him here.
· It’s not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line—stiff, inflexible, created by men. What really attracts me is the free, sensual curve. The curve I see on the sinuous course of our rivers, on the clouds in the sky, on your favorite woman’s body. The universe is entirely made of curves
· My work is not about “form follows function,” but “form follows beauty” or, even better, "form follows feminine.
· I pick up my pen. It flows. A building appears.
Cathedral of Brasília, Brazil
· I deliberately disregarded the right angle and rationalist architecture designed with ruler and square to boldly enter the world of curves and straight lines offered by reinforced concrete.… This deliberate protest arose from the environment in which I lived, with its white beaches, its huge mountains, its old baroque churches, and the beautiful suntanned women.
· My ambition has always been to reduce a building’s support to a minimum. The more we diminish supporting structures, the more audacious and important the architecture is. That has been my life’s work.
Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Brazil
· Life is very fleeting. It’s important to be gentle and optimistic. We look behind and think what we’ve done in this life has been good. It was simple; it was modest. Everyone creates their own story and moves on. That’s it. I don’t feel particularly important. What we create is not important. We’re very insignificant.
· That is the architecture I do, looking for new, different forms. Surprise is key in all art.
Centro Niemeyer, Spain
· Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.
· When you have a large space to conquer, the curve is the natural solution.
Oscar Niemeyer Museum, Brazil