Oscar Niemeyer

A biography

Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on December 15, 1907. He graduated from the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro in 1934.

Upon graduation, Oscar Niemeyer joined a team of Brazilian architects collaborating with Le Corbusier on a new Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro. Oscar Niemeyer worked until 1938 on this project.

Le Corbusier’s influence is present in Niemeyer’s early work and he remains a major source of inspiration. Niemeyer gradually acquired his own style, though, citing as a reason his love for curves claiming dominance in his work over Le Corbusier’s prevailing right angles.

100 years after his birth and after 80 years of international architecture and design projects, Niemeyer’s architecture now serves as the singular visual reference for Brazilian modernism worldwide, with the most iconic example being his full-scale design of the capital city, Brasilia. The forms of his furniture echo those that made his architecture symbolic of Brazilian style and culture — the exceptional local craftsmanship, the sweeping organic curves that emerge from the earth, and the use of rich native materials — leather and Brazilian hardwoods.

Recognized as one of the first to pioneer new concepts in architecture in South America, his designs are artistic gestures, with underlying logic and substance.

“I have always,” says Oscar Niemeyer, “accepted and respected all other schools of architecture, from the chill and elemental structures of Mies van der Rohe to the imagination and delirium of Gaudi. I must design what pleases me in a way that is naturally linked to my roots and the country of my origin.”