Oscar Niemeyer is dead. The 104-year-old architect, seen as one of the great Modernists of all time, succumbed to respiratory failure in a Rio hospital yesterday. Best known for his visionary design of the government buildings in Brasilia, the Picasso of Concrete was a lifelong Communist who had to leave his beloved Brazil after a military coup in the ’60s. Setting up in Europe, his iconic concrete curves appeared in Paris and London–although this last one, sadly, was only temporary. He was behind over 600 projects, and was still prolific in old age–the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, seen top, was built when he was 89.
Mentored by Le Corbusier, alongside whom he designed the U.N. building in NYC, Niemeyer professed himself to be an enemy of the perpendicular. Not for nothing was he known as the Concrete Poet.
The curve I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of its ocean and on the body of the beloved woman.
There will be a memorial service at the Presidential Palace in Brasilia today, and Niemeyer’s body will be interred in his home city of Rio de Janeiro, where three days of mourning have been declared.