[FOLIO] Burle Marx’s use of the principles of Cubism and abstraction forged an entirely new grammar for landscape design
The multi-faceted life of Roberto Burle Marx, godfather of Brazilian landscape design, involved everything from painting and printmaking to ecology, botany and natural history. Modes of expression from all of these fields were channelled into his landscape designs, characteristically asymmetrical, lush and free flowing, and a blurring of the line between works of art and design drawings. Shown here, his landscape design for Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo - one of Brazil’s largest and most vibrant parks - demonstrates his design ethos, a Brazilian Folk-Art-meets-Matisse print aesthetic with barely a single straight line visible beyond the rigid outlines of Oscar Niemeyer’s architecture. Burle Marx elevated landscape to the same level as architecture and beyond: his use of the principles of Cubism and abstraction forged an entirely new grammar for landscape design, one that was concerned with the relationship of plant communities to the environment as much as their aesthetic potential. In addition to his shaping of Brazil’s landscape, some 50 species of plant now proudly bear his name.