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Niemeyer is perhaps still best known for his grandiose contributions to Brasilia. More than an architectural tourist destination, Brasilia is something of a pilgrimage site, a city shaped almost entirely by modernist ideology, set up to fully disclose the triumphs and failures of the architect and his affiliated movement. Yet the unusual premise behind the city left it without any real gauge of success: While some continue to praise Brasilia’s distinctive sense of place, its still-undiminished novelty (“There’s nothing just like it,” said Niemeyer in a 2006 interview with O Globo newspaper), the city has also been viewed as a “utopian horror,” as described by art critic Robert Hughes, a failed humanist experiment, and proof of modernism’s imprudence…Though Brasilia can easily be interpreted as a failure (and which “utopias” have not failed?), few can deny that Niemeyer’s buildings embody the political ambitions that conceived the new capital, the aspirations for a unified and better Brazil for all. With admirable restraint, Niemeyer’s architecture strives to reveal the subjective fluidity and emotional accessibility of form, an aesthetic impulse that has gained a new reputation today. What is easy to overlook, however, is that Niemeyer’s buildings are also animated in another way: in glass, steel, and concrete, they capture the spirit of a bygone architectural movement, one that fearlessly pursued its grandest dreams and stood unafraid to fail.

-Niemaeyer article (artinfo)


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