With the death of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer on December 5, the world has lost a leading proponent of curved, rounded, wavy and spiraling forms. A modernist innovator, Niemeyer, who began working in the late 1930s, eschewed the straight lines and boxy shapes that had characterized modernism up to that time.
“Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man,” explained Niemeyer in The Curves of Time, his 1998 memoir. “What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love.”
Niemeyer’s many round buildings include the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Niterói outside of Rio, and the Parlamento Latinoamericano, in São Paulo. His career spanned seven decades, but he is probably best known for the iconic government buildings he designed in the 1950s for Brazil’s capital city Brasília.