Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Oscar Niemeyer

Brazilian Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho was born 15 December 1907 and celebrated his 101st birthday yesterday.  The architect-urbanist designed Brasília's Cathedral and National Congress and has recently been entrusted with refurbishing his Planalto Palace, the working office of the Brazilian president.  Considered one of the last moderns, Niemeyer's stature has been predicated on a life-long capacity for work and an ability to reconcile modernism with Latin surrealism.  

In his studio, he surrounds himself with his graffiti, aphorisms of personal significance:

"The dispossessed never get a turn."

"Form follows feminine."

"When misery multiplies and hope escapes from the hearts of men, only revolution."

A typographer's son, Niemeyer has consistently recommended the works of his former friend Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) as required reading for all architects.  He said last year in an interview on his hundredth birthday, "What I could do at 60 I can still do now."  

Want to read more?

Chora.  Montreal:  McGill University Press [for] the History and Theory of Architecture Graduate Programs.  TSA Library NA 2500.C49 vols.  I-III.

The Curves of Time:  The Memoirs of Oscar Niemeyer.  London:  Phaidon, 2000.  TSA Library NA 859.N5 A2 2000

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism and Humanism, translated by Philip Mairet.  Brooklyn: Haskell House, 1977.  HTML B 819.S32 1977

________.  Sketch for a Theory of the Emotions, translated by Philip Mairet. London: Routledge, 2002; 1962.  HTML  BF 532.S313  2002

Image above:  Antonio Scorza.  Oscar Niemeyer in his studio-library.  12 December 2007.  AFP/Getty Images.  To view Flickr Hive Mind photographs of Niemeyer's notable projects, click here.

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