The living art of Roberto Burle Marx at the New York Botanical Garden

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) presents ‘Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx’, celebrating influential Brazilian modernist artist, landscape architect, and plant explorer and conservationist Roberto Burle Marx, from June 8 through September 29, 2019. NYBG’s largest botanical exhibition ever, it is also the first to combine a horticultural tribute to Burle Marx’s design work, featuring lush gardens, with a curated gallery of his vibrant paintings, drawings, and textiles, revealing deep connections between his artistic practice and his commitment to environmental conservation.

Engaging public programming showcases the sights and sounds of Brazil and its lively contributions to music and dance evoking Rio de Janeiro, the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (“Wonderful City”) that Roberto Burle Marx called home and inspired his life and work. Burle Marx (1909–94) was a principal figure in the modernist art and garden movement in Latin America during the second half of the 20th century. His powerful modernist vision produced thousands of gardens and landscapes, including the famous curving mosaic walkways at Copacabana Beach in Rio. Visitors to NYBG will learn how his garden designs were fully integrated with his artistic work, his passion for botany and plant exploration, and his longtime advocacy for plant conservation. The exhibition highlights his modern landscape designs, executed in vivacious color and fluid geometric forms; his dynamic and influential works of art; and his celebrated contributions to botanical exploration and plant conservation in his native Brazil. An exhibition of Roberto Burle Marx’s paintings, drawings, and textiles, inspired by the culture and nature of Brazil, from the final 30 years of his career and life (1964–94) in the Art Gallery of the LuEsther T. Mertz Library allows visitors to better understand the interconnected threads of Burle Marx’s career and artistic practice. The Art Gallery features a grouping of Burle Marx’s abstract, vibrantly colored paintings, drawings, and textiles, which engaged with complex and diverse abstract forms. The Library Building’s Britton Rotunda brings to life the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, the Estate that the artist purchased in 1949 and where he lived and worked for decades. The site houses a nursery, multiple gardens, greenhouses, and a studio, as well as Burle Marx’s home, where he lived, worked and famously entertained friends and colleagues, many of whom were leading botanists, artists, and cultural figures in Brazil and worldwide. Large-scale wall graphics re-create the hand-painted tile walls of the Sítio’s loggia studio. Interpretive panels introduce the Sítio as the site of Burle Marx’s creativity, center of his plant studies, and gathering place for prominent figures in Burle Marx’s circle, including architects Lúcio Costa, Rino Levi, and Oscar Niemeyer; botanist Henrique Lahmeyer de Mello Barreto; botanical artist Margaret Mee; and landscape architects Conrad Hamerman, Raymond Jungles, and Haruyoshi Ono. In the Britton Science Gallery, an exhibit focusing on botany and conservation features plants of three key biomes of Brazil. A diverse and engaging schedule of public programming for all ages accompanies ‘Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx’, celebrating the sights and sounds of Brazil that inspired Burle Marx’s life and work.

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