Repairing Humanity and Nature: Roberto Burle Marx’s Environmentalism

Rooftop Garden of the Ministry of Education and Health, designed by Roberto Burle Marx, Rio de Janeiro, 1938.

Roberto Burle Marx holding Heliconia hirsuta burle marxii, one of the plant species that bears his name.

 

“From Nature we can accept with humility its laws and suggestions, always acknowledging it to be the greatest artist of all, with more to teach than one can learn.” – Roberto Burle Marx

Born to a German-Jewish father and a Brazilian-Catholic mother—and nurtured from an early age by cultural, religious, and artistic influences—Roberto Burle Marx came to view the world’s creator 
as “a builder” and “an artist creating a landscape universe.” Burle Marx was a spiritual
man, in that he recognized the divinity of nature. Civilization, in his eyes, began with the garden and he sought for his gardens to mend the schism between humanity and nature that followed the loss of the Garden of Eden. Continue reading

Remembering Eva Hesse

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Eva Hesse. Photograph by Barbara Brown and courtesy of Zeitgeist Films.

 

The life of artist Eva Hesse was brief and tumultuous. Born in Hamburg in 1936, her family fled Nazi Germany when she was only two years old. They resettled in New York where she was raised in the German Jewish community of Washington Heights, Manhattan. Her parents separated and she lost her mother to suicide when she was still a child, and later her father passed away after remarrying. She wanted to be an artist from an early age and studied at Pratt Institute of Design, the Cooper Union, and the Yale School of Art and Architecture. After completing her studies in 1959, Hesse returned to New York and pursued her art. Her own brief marriage also ended in divorce. Then, in October of 1969, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and in 1970 died at the age of 34.

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Renaissance Men Unite: Roberto Burle Marx and Arto Lindsay

On view May 6 – September 18, 2016 at the Jewish Museum, Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist is the first exhibition in the United States to showcase the full range of artist output by the prominent landscape architect. Although Burle Marx is best known for his iconic seaside pavements on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach, and for his abstract, geometric garden designs, his practice encompassed an enormous range of artistic forms and styles: he was a painter and sculptor; a designer of textiles, jewelry, theater sets, and costumes; a ceramicist and stained-glass artist. He was also an avid art collector, a talented baritone, a consummate cook, and a visionary self-taught botanist and ecologist. For him, all these endeavors were equally important, facets of one another.

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