For the Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, it was through drawing that his architecture emerged. Niemeyer’s sketches were integral to the formal development of his projects and helped him to develop his own distinct style of modern architecture. Unlike the work of Le Corbusier and other traditional modernists, defined by rigid straight lines and right angles, Niemeyer’s architecture favored sinuous lines and curved forms. His designs reflect the organic forms of his Brazilian surroundings: the bold, curvilinear landscape of mountain ranges, clouds, and rivers, as well as the delicate contours of the female body.
Niemeyer is perhaps best know for his role in developing the monumental buildings that shaped his former mentor Lúcio Costa’s master plan for his country’s futuristic capital, Brasilia, in the 1950s and 1960s. Highly involved in socialist politics, Niemeyer chose to exile himself from Brazil while the country was ruled by a dictatorship through the late 1960s into the mid-1980s. During this time he developed many of his international projects, bringing his unique architecture to cultures outside Brazil. His commitment to the socialist vision of the world extended to his work, as Niemeyer believed that through beauty architecture could benefit all members of society, regardless of social or economic class. For Niemeyer, the power of architecture was dependent upon invention; he revised the traditional modernist dictum of "form follows function" to "form follows beauty."
In 1988 Niemeyer was named Pritzker laureate. The award was founded in 1979 to celebrate architects who have made significant contributions to the field of architecture. In 1999 the Art Institute of Chicago organized an exhibition, The Pritzker Prize: 1979–1999, which featured work by winners of the award. It was for this exhibition that Niemeyer created these sketches, which depict many of his highly acclaimed designs and further show how drawing was the underpinning to his architecture. These sketches embody the large range of work by Niemeyer and illustrate his distinct style. Furthermore, they are the result of an action out of which all his architecture evolved: drawing.
Sponsor This exhibition has been made possible with support from the Architecture & Design Society.
Oscar Niemeyer. Church Sketches, 1999. Gift of Oscar Niemeyer, Fundaçao Oscar Niemeyer.
16 hours 46 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago COMING SOON—Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–75
The short-lived Tokyo magazine Provoke is now recognized as a major achievement in world photography of the last 50 years. A major international traveling show, which has Chicago as its only North American venue, this exhibition is the first survey of postwar Japanese art to be organized at the Art Institute and draws heavily on the the museum’s collection—more than 60% of the over 200 items on display belong to the Art Institute.
OPENING JANUARY 28—http://bit.ly/2jMlnUx
19 hours 58 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—The Italian–born American artist Josef Stella revisited his native Italy in 1922, where he became fascinated by Renaissance painting. Drawing inspiration from Sandro Botticelli, Stella began to produce decorative, detailed, symbolic compositions, such as A Vision (seen here). Stella was enthralled by the tropical plants he observed at the Bronx Botanical Garden in New York, and he imagined an iconic woman growing out of the earth like the towering flowers on either side of her.
The French–born American artist Gaston Lachaise found his own iconic inspiration for the sculpture, Woman (Elevation), in Isabel Dutaud Nagle, whom he later married, telling her, “I want to create a miracle with it… as great as you.” This sculpture represents Lachaise’s first full-scale expression of the idealized female form that would come to dominate his art. Modernists like Lachaise believed preclassical art possessed a primitive vitality absent from later art forms.
See Josef Stella’s A Vision (1925/26) and Gaston Lachaise’s Woman (Elevation) (1912–15; cast 1927)—on view in Gallery 271.
1 day 16 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Rodney McMillian: a great society
Our latest exhibition in the Modern Wing represents the last decade of the artist’s work in video. Grappling with the complexities of class, race, and place in America, Rodney McMillian employs elements of performance, public speaking, oral history—and his interest in the science fiction genre—to expose the social and psychological consequences of economic inequality, endemic racism, and the failed promise of freedom and prosperity for all of its citizens. While McMillian's work engages the often stark realities of history and contemporary culture, it is motivated by the potential for alternative realities and future transformation.
See Rodney McMillian: a great society on view in the Modern Wing through March 26.