Yuko Hasegawa


Oscar Niemeyer

The Man Who Built Brasilia

Venue : Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT)



Organization : Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo, Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo, Ministry of Culture of Brazil, Nikkei Inc.

Co-curator : Hikari Odaka, Chika Mori

Artists :
Oscar Niemeyer

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo presents Japan’s first major retrospective of the work of Oscar Niemeyer (1907–2012), father of Brazilian modernist architecture. As Brazil and Japan celebrate 120 years of diplomatic relations and Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympics in 2016, “Oscar Niemeyer – The Man Who Built Brasilia” will showcase a century of this great architect and son of Rio.

The unique creativity of Niemeyer’s designs for prominent buildings in his native Brazil earned him tributes both at home and abroad, including a raft of architectural awards such as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, Pritzker Architecture Prize, and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale as well as the International Lenin Peace Prize.
After having designed Pampulha architectural complex, Niemeyer worked with Le Corbusier in designing the United Nations Headquarters in New York (1947) and the buildings of the new capital Brasilia. The triumph of Brasilia took on historical significance above and beyond its architectural brilliance, raising Brazil’s international profile, and in 1987, earning its unique capital World Heritage status.
During the country’s military regime of the 1960s, Niemeyer moved to Paris and based his practice there for 20 years, returning to Brazil in 1985 and continuing to work prolifically, right up to his death at the age of 104.
Niemeyer, who always insisted on the importance of art in architecture, had been gifted at drawing from a young age, and found that if he looked at his pictures for long enough, they began to feel real. Niemeyer’s designs are suffused with the boldness and freedom of freehand drawing, and the physicality with which these traits are converted into spatial form. Distinguished by organic, dynamic lines likened to the curves of a woman’s body and the natural environment of Rio, they realize a harmonious blend of vitality and modernist geometry. His concepts and style have inspired many Japanese architects.
This exhibition will present a comprehensive overview – incorporating plans, models, photographs and video footage of 10 of his major buildings. Newly made models in various sizes will allow visitors to experience for themselves the dynamism of his designs.

The exhibition space is designed by SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates), architects greatly influenced by Niemeyer. One of the highlights will be the presentation of Ibirapuera Park in the Musuem’s 500m2 atrium.
The exhibition includes a great deal of video footage showing Oscar Niemeyer’s day-to-day life and revealing the secrets of his creativity, plus detailed documents of the construction of Brasilia.

"Oscer Niemeyer-The Man Who Built Brasilia" Yuko Hasegawa (from e-flux)