New York City, NY
The son of a German-Jewish father and a Brazilian mother of French, Portuguese, and Dutch descent, Burle Marx embraced modernism in the early 1930s as the movement was taking hold in his country among artists and intellectuals. Using abstraction as his guiding principle, and grand sweeps of voluminous local foliage and colorful flora as his palette, Burle Marx devised a whole new form of landscape expression, revolutionizing garden design.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, gardens in Brazil had primarily followed French models, featuring a symmetrical layout and imported flora. Burle Marx, on the other hand, did away with symmetry and advocated for the use of native plants, making numerous incursions into the Brazilian jungle throughout his lifetime in search of rare species. He was a horticulturist and a pioneer ecologist who only used plants suitable to the environment and was one of the first to speak out against the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Throughout a more than sixty-year career, Burle Marx designed over 2,000 gardens worldwide and discovered over thirty plant species that now bear his name, while never ceasing to paint, sculpt, and design textiles. He was also an art collector, a talented baritone, and a consummate cook—a veritable humanist and Renaissance man, bursting with creativity.
Brazilian Modernist presents over one hundred works by Burle Marx, demonstrating the versatility of his extraordinary talents, from his earliest forays into landscape architecture to never-before-seen designs for synagogues and other Jewish sites he created late in life. A number of international contemporary artists who have been inspired by Burle Marx will also be featured in the exhibition, including Juan Araujo, Paloma Bosquê, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Luisa Lambri, Arto Lindsay, Nick Mauss, and Beatriz Milhazes.
Exhibition overview from the Jewish Museum website
Whether you go or not, the full range and enduring influence of this Brazilian modernist landscape architect and garden designer's groundbreaking artistic output is explored in Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist the catalog that accompanies this exhibition.