Roberto Burle Marx 1909–1994

Roberto, born in São Paolo in 1909, became the most famous of the Burle Marx siblings. He was a genius, a man for all seasons: a world-renowned landscape architect with a distinctly Brazilian modernist formulation, a botanist, environmentalist, painter, ceramicist, textile and theater-set designer, singer, and a jewelry designer. Roberto designed some 2,000 public parks and gardens, along with mosaic pavements of the Copacabana Beach promenade in Rio de Janeiro - surely one of his most visible and beloved creations.

As the finely wrought gouache drawings of jewelry show, Roberto designed ancient feeling yet entirely modernist artist jewels with a hand that showed a deft understanding of massing, heft, volume and the formal organization of space. His early jewelry drawings show his experimentation with amoeba-like shapes dotted with cabochon gems, while drawings from 1962–1964 include geometric necklaces and bracelets. The jewelry is sculptural and irregular, but always with significant dimensionality. The rings rise high from their bezel settings, their gemstones jutting upwards, as if searching for the sky. Roberto’s interest in carefully choreographed formal textured surfaces emerges in brooches, some of which look as though they have been etched on a landscape of gold.