While it is correct to view Mid-Century Modern more as a category of collectibles than as a coherent design movement, the term is also useful as a shorthand for the pseudo-futuristic style that swallowed Modernism and regurgitated it as American roadside kitsch. It is unfortunate that the wash of nostalgia for Naive Modernism and Mid-Century decor has swept up the work of designers, like George Nelson or Charles and Ray Eames, who were clearly more ambitious. One wonders also at the current popularity of Brazilian Modernist master Oscar Neimeyer, who, along with Lucio Costa, realized the most ambitious urban development scheme in modern history: the de novo creation of the new Brazilian capital, Brasília. Neimeyer’s contribution to the development of Modernism as it is applied to institutional and civic architecture go far beyond his stylistic experimentation with reinforced concrete. One sees the enduring influence of Brazilian Modernism more in the form and structure of the suburban planned communities of the 1960s, such as Toronto’s Don Mills, than in the curvy concrete details of their embedded shopping malls.
Oscar Niemeyer Houses
? 2006: Alan Hess & Alan Weintraub
Oscar Niemeyer Houses showcases the houses built by this seminal modern architect with large-format images, design sketches and architectural renderings. Viewed as a collection, these houses demonstrate the wide range of Niemeyer’s skill and show a side of his work that is little known and underappreciated. (2006: Rizzoli; ISBN 9780847827985)
Oscar Niemeyer Buildings
? 2009: Alan Hess & Alan Weintraub
Niemeyer is known primarily for his large-scale institutional and civic designs throughout Brazil and Europe – daringly conceptual works that challenged Twentieth-Century Modernist orthodoxy with their iconoclastic structure and use of materials. This comprehensive book, a companion to Rizzoli’s Oscar Niemeyer Houses, presents a reevaluation of his greatest buildings, in all-new color photography specially commissioned for this book. (2009: Rizzoli; ISBN 9780847831906)
Oscar Niemeyer: Curves of Irreverence
? 2008: Styliane Philippou
Oscar Niemeyer: Curves of Irreverence explores the development of Niemeyer’s extraordinary body of ideas and forms as well as his role in the construction of Brazil’s modern image and cultural tradition. With insightful essays and extensive floor plans, this book provides a comprehensive survey of the Niemeyer’s important buildings, from his Mid-Century projects as chief architect for the new capital of Brasília to the spectacular Niterói Museum of Contemporary Art, completed in 1996. Highly recommended. (2008: Yale University Press; ISBN 9780300120389)
CASE: Lucio Costa Brasilia’s Superquadra
? 2005: Fares el-Dahdah ed.
No discussion of Brazilian modernism can be complete without reference to Lucio Costa’s ambitious (and infamous) urban plan for Brasília, the Plano Piloto. While Costa’s plan could never be implemented today, it remains useful as a starting point in questioning the role of urban design. In this volume of Case el-Dahdah has collected essays from acclaimed scholars discussing Costa’s unique contribution to urban planning. (2005: Prestel Publishing; ISBN 3791331574)
Brazil’s Modern Architecture
? 2007: Elisabetta Andreoli ed. & Adrian Forty ed.
An incredibly comprehensive guide to Brazil’s architectural Modernism, as viewed by contemporary Brazilian scholars. Editors Andreoli and Forty opt to divide the book thematically, rather than chronologically, a move which provides fresh perspectives into this unique period in architectural history. Accompanied by gorgeous photographs and schematics from the period. (2007: Phaidon; ISBN 9780714848457)
An extensive interview from Vice TV in which Neimeyer, age 101, recollects the Brasília project.
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