Archive for febrero, 2009
Adolfo Carrión será nombrado por el presidente de Estados Unidos como gesto de acercamiento a la comunidad latina, según The Daily New
Adolfo Carrión, presidente del condado del Bronx, en el norte de la Ciudad de Nueva York, será nombrado director de la Oficina de Políticas Urbanas de Estados Unidos, de acuerdo con el periódico The Daily News. Aunque el nombramiento aún no es oficial, el canal de televisión local NY1 citó otras fuentes, tanto de la ciudad como de Washington, para sustentar la noticia. Carrión, quien ha sido señalado en varias ocasiones como posible miembro del gabinete del presidente Barack Obama, es dirigente de la Asociación Nacional de Funcionarios Latinos Electos, que agrupa a la mayoría de los políticos de origen latino del país. El posible nombramiento del funcionario -cuyos padres son de origen puertorriqueño-, es considerado como un gesto de acercamiento a la comunidad latina por parte de Obama. Hasta el momento, la oficina de Carrión no ha confirmado ni desmentido las versiones de prensa.
Fuente: El Universal.mx
Damien Hirst’s “Golden Calf” sold for $18.6 million last year, but the art climate has changed.
By HOLLAND COTTER
LAST year Artforum magazine, one of the country’s leading contemporary art monthlies, felt as fat as a phone book, with issues running to 500 pages, most of them gallery advertisements. The current issue has just over 200 pages. Many ads have disappeared.
The contemporary art market, with its abiding reputation for foggy deals and puffy values, is a vulnerable organism, traditionally hit early and hard by economic malaise. That’s what’s happening now. Sales are vaporizing. Careers are leaking air. Chelsea rents are due. The boom that was is no more.
Anyone with memories of recessions in the early 1970s and late ’80s knows that we’ve been here before, though not exactly here. There are reasons to think that the present crisis is of a different magnitude: broader and deeper, a global black hole. Yet the same memories will lend a hopeful spin to that thought: as has been true before, a financial scouring can only be good for American art, which during the present decade has become a diminished thing.
The diminishment has not, God knows, been quantitative. Never has there been so much product. Never has the American art world functioned so efficiently as a full-service marketing industry on the corporate model.
Every year art schools across the country spit out thousands of groomed-for-success graduates, whose job it is to supply galleries and auction houses with desirable retail. They are backed up by cadres of public relations specialists — otherwise known as critics, curators, editors, publishers and career theorists — who provide timely updates on what desirable means.
Many of those specialists are, directly or indirectly, on the industry payroll, which is controlled by another set of personnel: the dealers, brokers, advisers, financiers, lawyers and — crucial in the era of art fairs — event planners who represent the industry’s marketing and sales division. They are the people who scan school rosters, pick off fresh talent, direct careers and, by some inscrutable calculus, determine what will sell for what.
Not that these departments are in any way separated; ethical firewalls are not this industry’s style. Despite the professionalization of the past decade, the art world still likes to think of itself as one big Love Boat. Night after night critics and collectors scarf down meals paid for by dealers promoting artists, or museums promoting shows, with everyone together at the table, schmoozing, stroking, prodding, weighing the vibes.
And where is art in all of this? Proliferating but languishing. “Quality,” primarily defined as formal skill, is back in vogue, part and parcel of a conservative, some would say retrogressive, painting and drawing revival. And it has given us a flood of well-schooled pictures, ingenious sculptures, fastidious photographs and carefully staged spectacles, each based on the same basic elements: a single idea, embedded in the work and expounded in an artist’s statement, and a look or style geared to be as catchy as the hook in a rock song.
The ideas don’t vary much. For a while we heard a lot about the radicalism of Beauty; lately about the subversive politics of aestheticized Ambiguity. Whatever, it is all market fodder. The trend reached some kind of nadir on the eve of the presidential election, when the New Museum trotted out, with triumphalist fanfare, an Elizabeth Peyton painting of Michelle Obama and added it to the artist’s retrospective. The promotional plug for the show was obvious. And the big political statement? That the art establishment voted Democratic.
Art in New York has not, of course, always been so anodyne an affair, and will not continue to be if a recession sweeps away such collectibles and clears space for other things. This has happened more than once in the recent past. Art has changed as a result. And in every case it has been artists who have reshaped the game.
The first real contemporary boom was in the early 1960s, when art decisively stopped being a coterie interest and briefly became an adjunct to the entertainment industry. Cash was abundant. Pop was hot. And the White House was culture conscious enough to create the National Endowment for the Arts so Americans wouldn’t keeping looking, in the words of Arthur Schlesinger Jr., like “money-grubbing materialists.”
The boom was short. The Vietnam War and racism were ripping the country apart. The economy tanked. In the early ’70s New York City was on the verge of bankruptcy, bleeding money and jobs. With virtually no commercial infrastructure for experimental art in place, artists had to create their own marginal, bootstrap model.
They moved, often illegally, into the derelict industrial area now called SoHo, and made art from what they found there. Trisha Brown choreographed dances for factory rooftops; Gordon Matta-Clark turned architecture into sculpture by slicing out pieces of walls. Everyone treated the city as a found object.
An artist named Jeffrey Lew turned the ground floor of his building at 112 Greene Street into a first-come-first-served studio and exhibition space. People came, working with scrap metal, cast-off wood and cloth, industrial paint, rope, string, dirt, lights, mirrors, video. New genres — installation, performance — were invented. Most of the work was made on site and ephemeral: there one day, gone the next.
White Columns, as 112 Greene Street came to called, became a prototype for a crop of nonprofit alternative spaces that sprang up across the country. Recessions are murder on such spaces, but White Columns is still alive and settled in Chelsea with an exhibition, through the end of the month, documenting, among other things, its 112 Greene Street years.
The ’70s economy, though stagnant, stabilized, and SoHo real estate prices rose. A younger generation of artists couldn’t afford to live there and landed on the Lower East Side and in South Bronx tenements. Again the energy was collective, but the mix was different: young art-school graduates (the country’s first major wave ), street artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fab Five Freddy Braithwaite, assorted punk-rebel types like Richard Hell and plain rebels like David Wojnarowicz.
Here too the aesthetic was improvisatory. Everybody did everything — painting, writing, performing, filming, photocopying zines, playing in bands — and new forms arrived, including hip-hop, graffiti, No Wave cinema, appropriation art and the first definable body of “out” queer art. So did unusual ways of exhibiting work: in cars, in bathrooms, in subways.
The best art was subversive, but in very un-’60s, nonideological ways. When, at midnight, you heard Klaus Nomi, with his bee-stung black lips and robot hair, channeling Maria Callas at the Mudd Club, you knew you were in the presence of a genius deviant whose very life was a political act.
But again the moment was brief. The Reagan economy was creating vast supplies of expendable wealth, and the East Village became a brand name. Suddenly galleries were filled with expensive, tasty little paintings and objects similar in variety and finesse to those in Chelsea now. They sold. Limousines lined up outside storefront galleries. Careers soared. But the originating spark was long gone.
After Black Monday in October 1987 the art was gone too, and with the market in disarray and gatekeepers confused, entrenched barriers came down. Black, Latino and Asian-American artists finally took center stage and fundamentally redefined American art. Gay and lesbian artists, bonded by the AIDS crisis and the culture wars, inspired by feminism, commanded visibility with sophisticated updates on protest art.
And thanks to multiculturalism and to the global reach of the digital revolution, the American art world in the ’90s was in touch with developments in Africa, Asia and South America. For the first time contemporary art was acknowledged to be not just a Euro-American but an international phenomenon and, as it soon turned out, a readily marketable one.
Which brings us to the present decade, held aloft on a wealth-at-the-top balloon, threatening to end in a drawn-out collapse. Students who entered art school a few years ago will probably have to emerge with drastically altered expectations. They will have to consider themselves lucky to get career breaks now taken for granted: the out-of-the-gate solo show, the early sales, the possibility of being able to live on the their art.
It’s day-job time again in America, and that’s O.K. Artists have always had them — van Gogh the preacher, Pollock the busboy, Henry Darger the janitor — and will again. The trick is to try to make them an energy source, not a chore.
At the same time, if the example of past crises holds true, artists can also take over the factory, make the art industry their own. Collectively and individually they can customize the machinery, alter the modes of distribution, adjust the rate of production to allow for organic growth, for shifts in purpose and direction. They can daydream and concentrate. They can make nothing for a while, or make something and make it wrong, and fail in peace, and start again.
Art schools can change too. The present goal of studio programs (and of ever more specialized art history programs) seems to be to narrow talent to a sharp point that can push its way aggressively into the competitive arena. But with markets uncertain, possibly nonexistent, why not relax this mode, open up education?
Why not make studio training an interdisciplinary experience, crossing over into sociology, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, poetry and theology?
Why not build into your graduate program a work-study semester that takes students out of the art world entirely and places them in hospitals, schools and prisons, sometimes in-extremis environments, i.e. real life? My guess is that if you did, American art would look very different than it does today.
Such changes would require new ways of thinking and writing about art, so critics will need to go back to school, miss a few parties and hit the books and the Internet. Debate about a “crisis in criticism” gets batted around the art world periodically, suggesting nostalgia for old-style traffic-cop tastemakers like Clement Greenberg who invented movements and managed careers. But if there is a crisis, it is not a crisis of power; it’s a crisis of knowledge. Simply put, we don’t know enough, about the past or about any cultures other than our own.
A globally minded learning curve that started to grow in the 1980s and ’90s seems to have withered away once multiculturalism fell out of fashion. Some New York critics, with a sigh of relief one sensed, have gone back to following every twitch of the cozy local scene, which also happens to constitute their social life.
The subject is not without interest, but it’s small. In the 21st century New York is just one more art town among many, and no longer a particularly influential one. Contemporary art belongs to the world. And names of artists only half-familiar to us — Uzo Egonu, Bhupen Khakhar, Iba Ndiaye, Montien Boonma, Amrita Sher-Gil, Graciela Carnevale, Madiha Omar, Shakir Hassan Al Said — have as much chance of being important to history as many we know.
But there will be many, many changes for art and artists in the years ahead. Trying to predict them is like trying to forecast the economy. You can only ask questions. The 21st century will almost certainly see consciousness-altering changes in digital access to knowledge and in the shaping of visual culture. What will artists do with this?
Will the art industry continue to cling to art’s traditional analog status, to insist that the material, buyable object is the only truly legitimate form of art, which is what the painting revival of the last few years has really been about? Will contemporary art continue to be, as it is now, a fancyish Fortunoff’s, a party supply shop for the Love Boat crew? Or will artists — and teachers, and critics — jump ship, swim for land that is still hard to locate on existing maps and make it their home and workplace?
I’m not talking about creating ’60s-style utopias; all those notions are dead and gone and weren’t so great to begin with. I’m talking about carving out a place in the larger culture where a condition of abnormality can be sustained, where imagining the unknown and the unknowable — impossible to buy or sell — is the primary enterprise. Crazy! says anyone with an ounce of business sense.
Right. Exactly. Crazy.
Asociaciones patrimoniales se oponen a la construcción de una nueva plaza, junto a la Plaza de los Tres Poderes, el Congreso Nacional y la Catedral Metropolitana, edificios declarados patrimonio de la humanidad, también de su autoría
BRASILIA (AP).- El renombrado arquitecto brasileño Oscar Niemeyer desató una polémica con una propuesta para construir una nueva plaza en el centro de Brasilia, la ciudad que exhibe algunas de sus creaciones más celebradas.
Su idea de construir una Plaza de la Soberanía en la Explanada de los Ministerios, con un edificio curvo de baja altura y un obelisco inclinado de 100 metros, provocó una discusión en blogs, sitios de internet y medios de comunicación.
El debate se centra principalmente en la conveniencia de la obra en medio de edificios del propio Niemeyer, declarados patrimonio de la humanidad.
Incluso el Instituto de Patrimonio Histórico y Artístico (Iphan) y la Unesco terciaron en las discusiones para advertir que la plaza sería ilegal por contravenir la ley de patrimonio histórico de Brasilia, que establece que la Explanada de los Ministerios debe mantenerse abierta, sin ninguna construcción.
Defensores de la obra señalan que la nueva plaza aportaría a la ciudad un punto de encuentro para sus habitantes, mientras sus detractores alertan que sería un atentado contra el trazado original, obra del fallecido arquitecto Lucio Costa, e interferiría con la vista abierta de otras obras del propio Niemeyer.
El gobernador del Distrito Federal, José Roberto Arruda, presentó el proyecto a inicios de enero con la promesa de construirla a tiempo para las celebraciones del 50 aniversario de Brasilia, en abril de 2010. Pero ante los cuestionamientos surgidos en torno al proyecto, dio marcha atrás y dijo que no había presupuesto para la obra.
A sus 101 años de edad y aún activo, Niemeyer defendió su obra en una carta publicada por el diario Correio Braziliense .
“Me espanta la discusión levantada al presentar una nueva plaza para ser construida en Brasilia. En mi última visita (en diciembre) pude sentir con claridad la necesidad de crear una plaza en escala compatible con la capital de un país tan admirado como el nuestro”, escribió el arquitecto en su carta.
Pero el superintendente del Iphan en el Distrito Federal, Alfredo Gastal, señaló que la ley de patrimonio histórico impide construcciones en el área central de la Explanada de los Ministerios. Argumentó además que, desde el punto de vista estético, bloquearía la vista abierta a otras obras del propio Niemeyer, como la Plaza de los Tres Poderes, el Congreso Nacional y la Catedral Metropolitana.
En medio de la polémica, la arquitecta María Elisa Costa, hija de Lucio Costa, propuso transferir la construcción a la parte posterior de la Estación Rodoviaria, principal centro de transporte urbano de la ciudad, donde no interferiría con otras obras de Niemeyer y mantendría fácil acceso para los visitantes de la terminal, como quería el arquitecto.
Entre tanto, el gobernador Arruda comentó el jueves que la discusión es sana en una ciudad joven como la capital brasileña. “Recibí el proyecto, agradezco a Oscar (Niemeyer) y agradezco a todas las personas que están dando contribuciones a Brasilia. Lo que encuentro bonito de esa polémica es que Brasilia está viva, está discutiendo”.
Fuente: La Nación
José Antonio Abreu nació en Valera, Trujillo, Venezuela, el 7 de mayo de 1939. Posee un PhD en Economía Petrolera, y es compositor y organista.
Es considerado uno de los íconos culturales y musicales de Venezuela. Comenzó sus estudios musicales en Barquisimeto y luego continuó en Caracas, en donde recibió clases de Vicente Emilio Sojo, Moisés Moleiro y Evencio Castellanos. Tiene los títulos de Profesor Ejecutante, Maestro Compositor y Director Orquestal.
Fundó y dirigió la Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar (OSSB), así como también la Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional Juvenil (1975) y la Fundación del Estado para el Sistema Nacional de Orquestas Infantiles y Juveniles (FESNOJIV), que es una red de orquestas infantiles, juveniles y coros que involucra cerca de 250 mil jóvenes músicos. Estos utilizan la educación musical para el desarrollo comunitario, la integración social y la solidaridad, que tiene como su máxima expresión la Orquesta Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar.
Este sistema ha sido modelo para otros países de Latinoamérica y el Caribe y ha sido merecedor de reconocimientos nacionales e internacionales, entre los cuales destaca el Príncipe de Asturias de las Artes 2008. Se rige por el principio de que “la música es un instrumento irremplazable para unir a las personas”, por lo cual la actividad que realiza FESNOJIV forma parte del proyecto “Música para la acción social”.
Durante la década de 1960 impartió la cátedra de Economía en distintas universidades. Luego, fue Diputado en el Congreso Nacional, y durante la década de 1970 se desempeñó en los cargos de Ministro de la Cultura, Vicepresidente y Director del Consejo Nacional de la Cultura (Conac).
Actualmente es miembro del Consejo Asesor de la Orquesta Juvenil de las Américas (co-fundado por el Conservatorio de New England) y director del Movimiento Nacional de Orquestas Venezolanas.
“I wish you would help create and document a special training program for at least 50 gifted young musicians, passionate for their art and for social justice, and dedicated to developing El Sistema in the US and in other countries.”
Por FRANCIS PISANI (SOITU.ES)
Comienzo a escribir este post desde el aeropuerto de Long Beach emprendiendo el camino de vuelta tras cuatro días en la conferencia TED, la más fascinante de todas aquellas a las que he tenido ocasión de asistir. Aún tengo muchas cosas que contar sobre diversos aspectos concretos, pero éste es el momento preciso de pararme a analizar qué me ha aportado en el fondo esta experiencia, qué es lo que me parece que vale la pena comprender.
Por FRANCIS PISANI (SOITU.ES)
Averiguar si existen los extraterrestres, interrumpir la destrucción de los océanos y salvar a los jóvenes venezolanos de la prostitución, la violencia y la droga son los desafíos a los que trata de enfrentarse este año la conferencia TED que está teniendo lugar en estos momentos en la ciudad californiana de Long Beach (podéis leer sobre ello en el post anterior).
La jornada ha estado marcada entre otras cosas por la presentación de robots cirujanos desarrollados por Catherine Mohr y su equipo en la Universidad de Stanford. Introduciendo por un único agujero un brazo ultra fino pero dotado de una cámara y de otras tres extremidades provistas de bisturís y pinzas, estos robots pueden paliar los daños que sufre el cuerpo con la cirugía convencional, y, bajo la dirección de un humano, operar incluso en el interior del corazón mismo.
También me impactó la sociedad proyectada por Shai Agassi, que pretende implantar el uso de vehículos eléctricos poniendo la infraestructura antes de lanzarlos al mercado. Separa la propiedad del vehículo de la de las baterías que necesita para circular y nos garantiza que las podremos cargar o reponer en estaciones de servicio capacitadas para ello en menos de lo que tardaríamos en llenar el depósito.
Pero todas las miradas de la jornada estaban puestas sobre todo sobre los tres galardonados del Premio TED del año. Se les ha invitado a a presentar sus proyectos y a formular en voz alta un deseo en el que poder implicar a los participantes para ayudarles a hacerlo realidad.
Jill Tatler, director del SETI Institute, se devana los sesos para descifrar los enigmas del espacio sideral y determinar si, de entre todos los sonidos inteligibles por el oído humano, algunos están lo suficientemente estructurados como para contener un mensaje.
Sylvia Earle, por su parte, ha consagrado su vida a salvaguardar los océanos e implora que la ayudemos a multiplicar las reservas marítimas. La destrucción que sufren avanza a un ritmo tan vertiginoso que teme que los próximos diez años sean tan determinantes como los 10.000 que ya han transcurrido. Nos pone sobre aviso: sin agua no hay vida; sin azul, tampoco verde.
El Sistema, la organización creada por José Antonio Abreu tiene como objetivo evitar que la juventud venezolana con escasos recursos caiga en la prostitución y la droga o incurra en la violencia valiéndose de la enseñanza de música clásica. 700.000 niños se han beneficiado ya de este aprendizaje y uno de sus protegidos acaba de ser nombrado jefe de orquesta en la filarmónica de Los Ángeles. Pide nuestro apoyo para lograr extender el modelo a Estados Unidos y el resto del mundo.
He aquí una conferencia a la que asiste gente de posición económica acomodada (6.000 dólares la acreditación) que se propone nada más y menos que cambiar el mundo y que recompensa a quienes se mueven para lograrlo.
Este talante tan a la “West Coast” me ha traído a la memoria a Shelby Coffey, jefe del Newseum de Washington. La gente de la Costa Este es más escéptica. Nos encontramos cerca de Silicon Valley “y de aquéllos que han demostrado que eran capaces de inventar lo imposible, lo que tan siquiera podíamos imaginar”.
Su espíritu empresarial impregna todo. Se limitan a tocar temas que no se prestan a la polémica, desde el calentamiento global hasta la necesidad de cambiar los sistemas educativos de arriba abajo. Y esta gente que tiende a creer que la tecnología es capaz de resolver la mayor parte de los problemas de la humanidad actúa y anda en muchas cosas.
¿Os sorprende acaso?
P. S.: Podéis seguir la conferencia en directo o en YouTube y leer los artículos de Boing Boing.
Burle Marx: el artista que supo pintar con plantas
Brasil está repleto de toda clase de plantas, flores y árboles exóticos. Pero hasta la irrupción del paisajista brasileño Roberto Burle Marx, sus compatriotas menospreciaban en gran medida las riquezas naturales que florecían en torno a sus casas. Ahora, el gigante sudamericano, con una retrospectiva en el museo Paço Imperial de Río de Janeiro, honra a un visionario que veía arte en los paisajes.
Por: Larry Rohter. Para The New York Times y Clarín
COPACABANA. La estética de la playa más famosa de Río, fruto de la planificación de Marx.
“Burle Marx ha inventado el paisajismo tropical tal como lo conocemos hoy en día pero, al hacerlo, también ha hecho algo más importante”, puntualiza Lauro Cavalcanti, director de una exposición dedicada a la obra de Burle Marx que se exhibirá en marzo en el museo Paço Imperial, aquí en Río.
“Al organizar las plantas nativas según los principios estéticos de la vanguardia artística, especialmente el cubismo y el arte abstracto, ha creado una nueva gramática moderna para el diseño de paisajes internacional”.
Burle Marx nació en 1909 y, para celebrar su centenario, el museo se ha propuesto mostrar todo el alcance de su creatividad (la muestra viajará después a San Pablo). Además de presentar modelos a escala y dibujos de sus proyectos de diseño paisajístico más célebres, la exposición incluye cerca de 100 cuadros suyos, así como dibujos, esculturas, tapices, joyas y decorados y trajes que diseñó para producciones teatrales.
“Era un hombre verdaderamente erudito y polifacético”, comenta William Howard Adams, el comisario jefe de una exposición sobre Burle Marx que se presentó en el Museo de Arte Moderno en 1991. “Pero lo que llama más la atención en él es que veía el diseño paisajístico como una disciplina de igual relevancia que la arquitectura, no como un telón de fondo o una decoración”. Burle Marx siempre se vio a sí mismo, ante todo, como un pintor. El diseño paisajístico, escribía en cierta ocasión, “no es más que el método que he encontrado para organizar y componer mis dibujos y pinturas, utilizando unos materiales menos convencionales”.
Fue mientras estudiaba pintura en Alemania durante la República de Weimar cuando Burle Marx, como él mismo contaría más tarde, se dio cuenta de que la vegetación que los brasileños desdeñaban por considerarla matojos y malas hierbas, prefiriendo en cambio pinos y gladiolos importados para sus jardines, era extraordinaria. Mientras visitaba el Jardín Botánico de Berlín, se sorprendió al encontrar muchas plantas brasileñas en su colección, y rápidamente se fijó en las posibilidades artísticas sin explotar que tenían sus variados tamaños, formas y colores.
Burle Marx tenía ascendencia alemana por parte de padre y francesa por la de su madre. Nació en San Pablo, aunque siendo muy joven se trasladó a Río de Janeiro, donde tuvo como vecino al arquitecto modernista Lucio Costa, el futuro diseñador de Brasilia, quien le hizo a Burle Marx sus primeros encargos. Burle Marx es especialmente conocido por sus muchos proyectos ambiciosos aquí en Río.
“El rostro de esta ciudad lleva su huella”, comenta Cavalcanti. El parque Aterro do Flamengo, el más grande de Río y que se ubica junto a la bahía, construido sobre un paseo marítimo ganado al mar, es un ejemplo inicial de uno de los proyectos más característicos de Burle Marx. Pero, en lo que a líneas de costas escarpadas se refiere, no hay nada que supere los paseos de Copacabana, con sus coloridos mosaicos abstractos de piedra que se extienden ininterrumpidamente en toda la longitud de la playa. Partiendo de los pisos superiores de los edificios que bordean la Avenida Atlántica, Burle Marx parece haber pintado un único lienzo de casi cinco kilómetros de largo. “Aunque le gustaba diseñar jardines para sus amigos, lo que más le satisfacía era trabajar en espacios públicos”, señala Haruyoshi Ono, un arquitecto paisajista brasileño que empezó a trabajar con él en 1965 y actualmente dirige la empresa de diseño paisajístico que Burle Marx fundó en los años cincuenta. “Solía decir que cuanto más grande y abierto era un proyecto, más le gustaba, porque podía disfrutarlo gente de todas las clases sociales”.
Durante la década pasada, Burle Marx se ha convertido en “una especie de héroe” para una nueva generación de arquitectos paisajistas estadounidenses, según explica Karen Van Lengen, decana de la Escuela de Arquitectura de la Universidad de Virginia. Dice que se le admira no sólo por sus formidables habilidades técnicas como artista, sino también por centrarse en los aspectos científicos del paisajismo y por la atención que prestaba a las comunidades vegetales y a su relación con el medio ambiente.
Burle Marx tenía casi tanto de botánico como de arquitecto paisajista, por más que fuese autodidacta. Hay más de 50 especies vegetales que llevan su nombre.
“Burle Marx fue profético en su respeto por las plantas y su capacidad para organizar el conjunto, en su habilidad para ver el jardín como un experimento estético a la vez que una parte del ecosistema”, dice Van Lengen. “Ése es el reto de los arquitectos paisajistas actuales: reunir esas energías”.
A New Look at the Multitalented Man Who Made Tropical Landscaping an Art
By LARRY ROHTER
RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil teems with jungles, forests and all sorts of exotic plants, flowers and trees. But until the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx came along to tame and shape his country’s exuberant flora, his countrymen had mostly disdained the natural riches that, often literally, flourished in their own backyards.
“Burle Marx created tropical landscaping as we know it today, but in doing so he also did something even greater,” said Lauro Cavalcanti, the curator of an exhibition devoted to the work of Burle Marx that runs through March at the Paço Imperial museum here. “By organizing native plants in accordance with the aesthetic principles of the artistic vanguard, especially Cubism and abstractionism, he created a new and modern grammar for international landscape design.”
Burle Marx was born in 1909, and to mark that centenary the museum set out to show the full extent of his creativity. (The show travels next to São Paulo.) In addition to scale models and drawings of his most celebrated landscape design projects, the exhibition includes nearly 100 of his paintings, as well as drawings, sculptures, tapestries, jewelry, and sets and costumes he designed for theatrical productions. The goal is to show how his work in one field bled into his work in the others.
“He was truly a polymath,” said William Howard Adams, the chief curator of a Burle Marx exhibition presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 1991. “But the thing about him that really stands out is that he regarded landscape design as an equal partner with architecture, not as a backdrop or decoration, and elevated it to that level.”
For his part, Burle Marx always thought of himself first and foremost as a painter, which explains the abundance of canvases in the show. Landscape design, he once wrote, “was merely the method I found to organize and compose my drawing and painting, using less conventional materials.”
It was while studying painting in Germany during the Weimar Republic, as he would later tell it, that Burle Marx realized that the vegetation Brazilians then dismissed as scrub and brush, preferring imported pine trees and gladioli for their gardens, was truly extraordinary. Visiting the Botanical Garden in Berlin, he was startled to find many Brazilian plants in the collection and quickly came to see the untapped artistic potential in their varied shapes, sizes and hues.
“The way he synthesized art and horticulture in three-dimensional design is really quite exceptional,” said Mirka Benes, a landscape historian who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. “He truly had a painter’s eye, which you could sense in his superb sense of color and form, and he had an understanding of the tenets of Modernism and Dada, having clearly known and studied the work of people like Hans Arp.”
Like Arp, Burle Marx was of German descent on his father’s side and French on his mother’s side. He was born in São Paulo, but moved at a young age to Rio de Janeiro, where one of his neighbors was the Modernist architect Lucio Costa, the future designer of Brasília, who gave Burle Marx his first commissions.
Although Burle Marx had a hand in designing some parts of Brasília, including its hanging gardens, he is especially known among Brazilians for his many ambitious projects here in Rio. “The face of this city bears his imprint,” Mr. Cavalcanti said.
Rio’s largest park, the bayside Aterro do Flamengo, built on reclaimed seafront just southwest of downtown, is an early example of one of Burle Marx’s signature projects. But for sheer sweep, nothing surpasses the sidewalks of Copacabana, with colorful abstract stone mosaics extending unbroken the entire length of that beach. From the upper floors of the buildings that line Avenida Atlantica, Burle Marx appears to have painted a single canvas about three miles long.
“While he enjoyed designing gardens for friends, what gave him the most satisfaction was to work with public spaces,” said Haruyoshi Ono, a Brazilian landscape architect who began working with him in 1965 and today directs the landscaping company that Burle Marx founded in the 1950s. “He used to say the larger and more open a project, the more he liked it, because it could be enjoyed by all social strata.”
Burle Marx’s most elaborate and time-consuming effort, however, may have been an abandoned estate he bought on the outskirts of the city in 1948 and turned into a home, studio and garden complex. Now a national landmark and tourist attraction with more than 3,500 species of plants, it functioned as his workshop, laboratory and office until his death in 1994.
At the peak of his career, Burle Marx was highly esteemed among his peers in the United States. In 1965 the American Institute of Architects awarded him its fine-arts prize, saying that he was “the real creator of the modern garden.”
But unless they traveled to the tropics, American gardeners had little opportunity for direct exposure to his work. Although he designed some gardens in temperate climates, notably for United Nations buildings in France and Austria, “you certainly can’t have a Burle Marx garden in Wisconsin or Vancouver,” Ms. Benes said, “unless you translate his ideas to local plant systems, which looks easy on paper but is not.”
In the United States, Burle Marx’s earliest known project was the Burton Tremaine house in Santa Barbara, Calif., commissioned in 1948. He also designed gardens for the Hilton Hotel in San Juan, P.R., and the Organization of American States headquarters in Washington, and was hired to revamp Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.
Over the last decade he has emerged as “something of a hero” to a new generation of American landscape architects, said Karen Van Lengen, dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. He is admired not just for his formidable technical skills as an artist, she said, but also for his focus on the scientific side of landscaping and the attention he paid to plant communities and their relationship to the environment.
Burle Marx was almost as much a botanist as a landscape architect, although largely self-taught. More than 50 plant species have been named for him, and he was one of the world’s leading experts on bromeliads, the plant family to which the pineapple belongs. Even in old age he regularly traveled to the Amazon and Southeast Asia to search for unusual and attractive plants that he could cultivate in his home garden and then use in new projects.
“Burle Marx was prescient in his reverence for plants and his stewardship of the whole nursery, for his ability to see the garden both as an aesthetic experiment and also as part of the ecology,” Ms. Van Lengen said. “That’s the challenge for today’s landscape architects, to bring those energies together.
“Burle Marx was already doing that before most people were even thinking about it, so he really stands alone.”
By JAMES BROOKE,
Published: June 6, 1994
Roberto Burle Marx, whose mark on Brazil’s landscape ranged from the undulating mosaic sidewalks of Copacabana Beach to the hanging gardens in the new capital of Brasilia, died on Saturday. He was 84 and lived in his lush, botanical retreat, a former coffee farm, 35 miles from here.
He died of congestive heart failure, friends said.
During a 60-year career, Brazil’s most prominent landscape artist brought his nation’s rich flora out from Europe’s shadow and became a tireless champion of Brazil’s orchids, palms, water lilies and bromeliads.
His nearly 3,000 landscape projects in 20 nations ranged from the gardens of the Organization of American States headquarters in Washington to a redesign of Biscayne Boulevard in Miami, from the gardens of the Unesco headquarters in Paris to a tropical garden under glass at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Designed a Rio Park
In Brazil, he was best known for Rio’s postcard Flamengo Park — 300 acres of lawns, playing fields, artificial beach and automobile parkway that connect the city’s financial center with beachfront residential neighborhoods.
“Unlike any other art form, a garden is designed for the future, and for future generations,” Mr. Burle Marx said in an interview prior to his 1991 show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibit, “Roberto Burle Marx: The Unnatural Art of the Garden,” was the museum’s first devoted to a landscape architect.
Born in Sao Paulo in 1909 to a Brazilian mother and a German father, Mr. Burle Marx only discovered the power and variety of Brazilian plants when he traveled to Berlin in 1928 to study at the Dahlem Botanical Gardens. Moving to Rio on his return to Brazil, he was experimenting in his backyard with local flora when he caught the eye of a neighbor, Lucio Costa.
Decades later, the two worked together on the daring design for Brasilia, the new capital in the central high plains. Mr. Costa designed Le Corbusier-style buildings and Mr. Burle Marx designed landscapes, which ranged from monumental parks to the hanging gardens of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“He was the creator of Brazilian gardens,” Mr. Costa said on Saturday. “He was an innovator because he associated abstract art with landscaping. Before him, our gardens were planned following French and English models.”
A self-taught botanist, this bear of a man with an unruly shock of white hair came to have 13 plant species named after him. Mr. Burle Marx also became a pioneering critic of Brazil’s treatment of its historic and biological heritage.
Although he escaped a kidnap attempt last year, apparently in an effort to get ransom, he criticized Rio’s steady retreat behind walls, saying that a move last year to enclose city parks behind cast iron fences amounted to “Rio in a cage.” On one occasion, he stalked out of a Brazilian Embassy in Greece when he encountered, in a waiting room, a plastic plant.
Raising alarms about Amazon destruction decades before it became fashionable to do so, Mr. Burle Marx warned in 1971: “I fear that by the time people become enlightened, there won’t be any more forests in this country.”
By LARRY ROHTER
Published: July 29, 2001
EVEN in a city as spectacular as Rio, a time comes when you feel you just have to get away from it all, if only for a few hours. So early one recent Sunday morning my wife, Clotilde, and I got into our car and headed west along the coast from our apartment in Ipanema, past the Sun Belt-inspired suburban sprawl and clutter of the Barra da Tijuca until we reached a tranquil green refuge known as the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx.
Roberto Burle Marx was Brazil’s most celebrated modern landscape designer, often working in tandem with the architect Oscar Niemeyer, and in 1949 he was looking for a secluded place to live and store his growing collection of rare plants. About an hour’s drive from Rio, near a fishing village called Barra de Guaratiba, he found what he was looking for: an abandoned banana plantation with a small country house, a 17th-century chapel and 90 acres of grounds.
Today the Burle Marx museum and home contains one of the most important collections of tropical plants in the world, some 3,500 species that Burle Marx gathered from all over Brazil as well as from places as far away as Indonesia and Hawaii. It is open to the public six days a week, and strolling the estate amid towering palm trees while listening to songbirds and cicadas and observing the rock gardens and waterfalls that Burle Marx created for his own amusement proved to have a wonderfully calming and restorative effect.
Burle Marx also collected paintings, jewelry, glasswork, pottery, wind chimes, shells and Baroque religious images, which he arranged skillfully in his home, which only began receiving visitors in 1999, and in the two large open-air ateliers built to his specifications. ”He liked to mix styles,” our guide, Ana Paula Costa, told us dryly, and the objects displayed in and around the house reflect that eclecticism — or promiscuity, if you prefer.
At the rear, for instance, is a series of stone structures and bubbling fountains, recalling both Frank Lloyd Wright and a Japanese monastery, that Burle Marx used for parties, judging by the barbecue that still functions. Even more striking was the second of the studios, a huge, austere structure that was finished only after his death in 1994 at the age of 85. Burle Marx’s own paintings are on view here, as are his library, a tapestry and several sculptures.
It was getting on toward lunch by the time we finished our visit, and we could easily have stopped at any of several nearby excellent fish restaurants.
We already knew Tia Palmira, the most celebrated of the group, with its simple wooden tables on a promonotory overlooking the beach, and had several times enjoyed spicy fish stews there. But we were in a mood for something new, and so drove a few miles farther west to Quatro Sete Meia.
To our delight, we found ourselves in a postcard-fantasy setting of what Brazil should be. Our table, at an open window in what once was a fisherman’s house, overlooked the sea, and in the shallows just a few yards away, white egrets hunted for fish or glided in graceful flight just above the waterline. Behind them, simple fishing boats painted in pastels stood at anchor, framed against a placid azure sea that stretched away to a distant mountain range.
In those surroundings, the meal itself could easily have been eclipsed. But it wasn’t. After a tasty appetizer of fresh sirí, or spiced and breaded crab, we opted for one of the moquecas, or stews, for two that are the specialty of the house. We had our choice of shrimp, fish, squid, octopus or mixed crustaceans, but went with the shrimp, at $15, which was more than enough for the two of us; we accompanied it with a pair of $2 batidas, a favorite Brazilian cocktail that mixes sugar cane liquor with fruit juices like lemon, coconut or pineapple.
After a stop along the road to buy fresh shellfish from the fishermen whose stalls line the highway, our next and final stop, heading back to the city, was the Casa do Pontal, at Estrada do Pontal 3295 in the Recreio dos Bandeirantes neighborhood. Finding the place was a bit of a challenge, since the numbering system is not sequential, the building is set back from the road in a country house with little identification, and parking is somewhat haphazard.
We were immediately disarmed, how ever, once we crossed the threshold and read the idealistic declaration of purpose of this singular museum devoted exclusively to Brazilian naïve and folk art. ”In a corrupt world, full of violence and hatred, it is a great comfort to be able to enter a universe created by the skilled hands of humble and honest artists,” the statement proclaims.
Like the Burle Marx museum, the Casa do Pontal is the result of one man’s vision and persistence — in this case a French intellectual named Jacques van de Beuque, who arrived in Brazil in 1946 and began collecting Brazilian popular art. In those days, most educated Brazilians scorned the humble creations of illiterate artisans from the interior of their country, but Mr. van de Beuque knew better, and eventually amassed 5,000 works by more than 200 artists.
The principal charm of the collection lies in the beauty of its portrayal of traditional rural Brazilian life, especially that of the poor, arid Northeast.
Moving from room to room, we encountered eye-catching clay sculptures, wood carvings and cloth and metal tableaus that faithfully depicted religious and music festivals and farm and family routines. The entire cycle of life was portrayed here with a charming guilelessness, from birth and schooldays through courtship and marriage, all the way up to death, burial and mourning.
We were so enchanted by what we saw that we had to be gently ushered out the door at closing time. A few days later a Rio newspaper published an interview with the Portuguese novelist José Saramago, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1999, in which he confessed that he had been so moved by a visit to the museum that it ended up inspiring his latest novel, ”The Cavern.”
”Brazil should consider this place a national treasure, more important than . . . Corcovado” — the 125-foot statue of Christ that is the emblem of Rio — Mr. Saramago declared. After a few hours spent contemplating the works of gifted but obscure artists with names like Zé Caboclo, or Joe Hillbilly, we found it hard to disagree.
Exotic plants, exotic food
To visit the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, Estrada da Barra de Guaratiba 2019, telephone and fax (55-21) 2410-1412, one must make reservations well in advance, since all tours are guided and there are only two daily, at 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $1.70 a person, and there is no snack bar or restaurant, so be sure to bring provisions. Open daily except Monday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Casa do Pontal, Estrada do Pontal 3295, telephone (55-21) 2490-3278, because of the energy crisis, is open only Thursday and Friday from noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m., admission fee $3.35
Tia Palmira, Rua Caminho de Souza 18, Barra de Guaritiba, (55-21) 2410-8169 serves 10 main dishes, including bobó de camarão, a typical Bahia shrimp stew. Dinner for two without wine, $32.
Quatro Sete Meia, Rua Barros de Alarcão 476, Pedra de Guaratiba, (55-21) 2417-1716. Shrimp moqueca for two is $15. We each had a $2
batida, a cocktail of sugar cane liquor and fruit juice.
John Peterson and John Cary Join Luminaries In the Field
John Peterson and John Cary of Public Architecture, a nonprofit which mobilizes architects and designers to address larger social issues through design, were jointly honored as 2009 Designers of the Year by Contract magazine. Peterson and Cary announced a new venture which recruits manufacturers and vendors to support high quality pro bono design projects.
San Francisco, Calif. (PRWEB) February 4, 2009—This past week, during the 30th Annual Interior Awards in New York, Public Architecture leaders John Peterson and John Cary were jointly recognized with the prestigious ”Designers of the Year Award,” presented by Contract magazine.
Conferred each year since 1979, past recipients of the award include the likes of designers Ralph Appelbaum, Shigeru Ban, Shashi Caan, Michael Graves, William McDonough, and David Rockwell.
“We are deeply honored to be receiving this award. This award is much bigger than John Cary or I or even Public Architecture as an organization. This award is about the potential of the design community to be a force for positive change in the civic sphere,” says co-recipient John Peterson, AIA, Founder & President of Public Architecture.
Unlike other design awards based solely on aesthetic accomplishment, the primary mission of the Designer of the Year Award is to recognize individuals who contribute to the design industry in positive ways that benefit the entire profession as well as society at-large.
“In an age where the desire to ‘give back’ seems to be a growing response to the weariness of excess, John Peterson and John Cary have emerged as leaders in the field. They have put socially-responsible design on the map, inspired a greater sense of purpose among those interested in practicing it, and—most importantly—offer a practical, organized approach to executing it,” notes Jennifer Busch, editor-in-chief of Contract magazine.
Peterson founded Public Architecture in 2002 and joined its staff as President this past fall. Cary has served as Executive Director of Public Architecture since 2004. Together with a dedicated staff and board as well as a massive network of over 450 architecture and design firms, Public Architecture is at the forefront of the pro bono design movement. In 2008 alone, more than 200,000 hours and an estimated $20 million in pro bono services were pledged through The 1% program of Public Architecture.
Public Architecture also undertakes a series of public-interest design initiatives, which address issues of broad social relevance and bring design to underserved communities. Noted initiatives include a design response to the plight of day laborers across the country as well as innovative research, which sheds new light on social, environmental, and ecological aspects of building material reuse.
Following the award ceremony, Humanscale hosted a special reception and silent auction to benefit Public Architecture. The event took place in Humanscale’s flagship showroom adjacent to Madison Square Park, attracting hundreds of designers and design enthusiasts as well as others to celebrate Public Architecture and pro bono design.
Public Architecture plans to use the award to evolve The 1% program to welcome manufacturers and vendors. Looking ahead, co-recipient Cary adds, “In honor of this award, we are developing a platform for furnishing manufacturers to support the incredible design work of our program participants.”
In an effort to mobilize the manufacturers in attendance at the award ceremony and also to jumpstart the effort, Public Architecture secured hearty endorsements from CEOs of multiple major design firms, such as Gensler, HKS, HOK, and Perkins+Will.
Among the most ringing endorsements was that of design legend and business leader Art Gensler, who said, “I am asking you and your company to make a real commitment to Public Architecture’s innovative program. You can expect a big return on the investment and it is the right thing to do.”
About Public Architecture
Established in 2002, Public Architecture is a national nonprofit organization based in San Francisco. Public Architecture acts as a catalyst for public discourse through education, advocacy, and the design of public spaces and amenities. “The 1%” is a national program launched by Public Architecture in 2005 that challenges architecture firms to pledge 1% of their billable hours to pro bono work. If every architecture professional in the U.S. dedicated just 20 hours annually, it would add up to 5,000,000 hours each year—the equivalent of 2,500-person firm working fulltime for the public good. Public Architecture is presently engaged in major partnerships with entities as diverse as the Taproot Foundation, United States Green Building Council, and United Way of the Bay Area. The 1% program is presently supported by a range of sponsors and partnerships, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Pro Bono Action Tank, Taproot Foundation; leading firms such as HKS, HOK, McCall Design Group, and Perkins+Will; and major manufacturers such as Herman Miller and Humanscale.
About Contract Magazine
Contract magazine covers the commercial design industry, with a special focus on how interior design and architecture can positively impact the corporate, retail, educational, hospitality, health care, entertainment, government, institutional, and performing arts markets. Through in-depth reports, special features, and news and views, Contract magazine examines how the strategic goals of commercial clients can be supported and advanced through design, as well as how trends in the various industries covered shape and influence the current and future practice of commercial interior design. Contract magazine is a Nielsen Business Publications and a Nielsen Media production, published by John M. Rouse and edited by Jennifer Thiele Busch. Now in its 30th year, the Designer of the Year Award conferred by Contract magazine has long been considered the commercial design industry’s most prestigious honor.