It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve—the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers, in the body of the beloved woman.

Oscar Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer 1907–2012

Oscar Niemeyer was a landmark figure of the Brazilian modern architectural movement who over the course of his lifetime designed more than 500 projects around the world. His designs were known for their free-flowing forms, relationship to the natural environment, and unique approach to straight versus curved lines. Niemeyer frequently worked in concrete thus exemplifying his creative ability to design lightness from dense material.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907, he studied at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes from 1929 until 1934. In 1932, he joined the firm of his mentor and renowned modernist architect and urban planner Lúcio Costa. The firm’s collaboration in 1936 with Le Corbusier on the Ministry of Education and Health building in Rio de Janeiro was celebrated as Brazil’s emergence as a force in modern design. Niemeyer’s first major project came in 1941 when he was commissioned to design the Pampulha Architectural Complex—now a UNESCO World Heritage site.