Renowned modern architect Oscar Niemeyer, best known for designing the U.N. Building in New York City and for his dramatic work in Brazil, died Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro. He was 104.
Niemeyer, whose career lasted more than 75 years, played a key role in the postwar architecture of the late 1940s, ’50s and ’60s, and his work is sweepingly reflected in the Esplanade of Ministries, a spacious, easily accessible series of modernistic governmental buildings in the nation’s federal capital of Brasilia.
One of Niemeyer’s signatures is his use of curves in his designs.
“I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man,” Niemeyer famously said when asked about his obsession with curves. “I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman.”
“Brazil lost today one of its geniuses,” said Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, reacting to Niemeyer’s death. “Few dreamed so intensely, and accomplished so much, as he did.”
Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho, who later shortened his name to Oscar Niemeyer, taking the surname of his German grandmother, was born in Rio on Dec. 15, 1907.
In addition to his inspiring architectural works, Niemeyer led a politically charged life, aligning himself with the far left throughout his career, having designed the Communist Party headquarters in Paris, a project completed in 1980.
Due to his political leanings, Niemeyer’s work was marginalized in his homeland at times, particularly during the 1960s and '70s when right-wing military dictatorships controlled Brazil. He was also banned from working in the United States during most of the Cold War.
Niemeyer is survived by his wife, Vera Lúcia Cabreira, his long-time secretary, four grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and six great-great-grandchildren, according to the Brazilian newspaper O Globo,
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