In commemoration of Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012)

In commemoration of Oscar Niemeyer

Young Lives of Oscar Niemeyer

 Rio de Janeiro. Niemeyer was born on 15.12.1907 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He was one of six children and, according to the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, had the mountains of Rios in his eyes.  In 1928, Niemeyer married Annita Baldo (Annita Oscar Niemeyer).  Two years later, their daughter Anna Maria, Oscar Niemeyer’s only child, was born.  In 1930 he began studying architecture at the State Academy of Fine Arts, where he first came into contact with the Brazilian urban planner Lúcio Costa, who was then head of the Academy and co-designer of the curriculum. Towards the end of his studies, Niemeyer managed an internship at Costas' office and met Le Corbusier a short time later who flew a short time later to Brazil, to work with Lúcio Costa.

Significant Architecture and People in the Life of Oscar Niemeyer

Niemeyer’s ambition and striving for recognition was already evident in the choice of his name: He was born Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, but at the beginning of his career he was known exclusively by his stage name, Niemeyer.  The collaboration with architects Le Corbusier and Lúcio Costa initiated his breakthrough. In 1947, Niemeyer was involved in the design of the UN building on New York’s East River, designed the headquarters of the Communist Party of France, and became world famous in 1960 with the buildings of Brasília. With the creation of a new capital in collaboration with Lúcio Costa, he succeeded in finding memorable forms for the representation of Brazil and combining sculptural monumentality with classical order. The architecture of Brasilia should be more present. Niemeyer wanted to create an architecture that surprises and makes the viewer falter out of awe of the encounter with completely unfamiliar forms.  The people of Brasilia should develop a sense of the simplicity and beauty of its architecture.

Conception of Architecture from Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer was considered one of the most politically committed and criticized architects in the world.  He was a staunch communist and a close friend of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.  Niemeyer, however, did not see the architect as a social reformer.  For him, the task was to build works of great beauty and expressiveness, so that they influenced the history of evolution.  Two things Niemeyer hated were communism, and the right angle in architecture. For him, this was regarded as the oppressor of space and opposed Niemeyer’s free and sensual architectural style as an extreme image.

Oscar Niemeyer: “The curve is nature: mountains, bodies, water. Everything’s flowing. And you mustn’t let nature run against right angles everywhere.”

Style of Oscar Niemeyer

Although Niemeyer’s work has often been compared with that of Corbusier and the similarity of the two styles cannot be denied, the two artists clearly differ in this view. For Niemeyer, architecture was a form of art full of passion, an invention. He was interested in the atmosphere the buildings created and the way they complemented each other and formed an overall concept. In doing so, he visualized his works in his head as if they had already been built.  In 1988, Niemeyer received the Pritzker Prize and visited his office at Copacabana when he was over a hundred years old: “I have to work.  I don’t have much time left. I’m going to keep working – until I fall down.”

The Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer is considered a master of curves and a pioneer of modern Brazilian architecture.  With his expressive and sculptural conception of art, he was one of the most important architects of the twentieth century.  His works are characterized by simple elegance and sweeping lines and inspire with their unique sculptural beauty. Niemeyer’s buildings combine respect for the respective location with graceful lightness.

Last years Oscar Niemeyer

Annita Niemeyer died at the age of 93, after 76 years of marriage.  Niemeyer’s daughter died in June 2012, before her father.  On 16 November 2006, Oscar Niemeyer married his secretary, Vera Lúcia Cabreira, who was 38 years younger. He died at the age of 104, leaving behind his second wife four grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.  Niemeyer’s death resulted in a state of mourning lasting several days.  To this day, he is considered the father of Brazilian architectural modernity and a genius of world architecture.

Oscar Niemeyer: “Brazilian, architect.  He lived among friends and believed in the future.”

Dilma Rousseff: “Niemeyer was a revolutionary, the mentor of a new architecture, beautiful, logical and, as he himself said, inventive.”