Roberto Burle Marx is the first landscape gardener to be exhibited by the Museum of Modern Art. Ten projects by this eighty-one-year old Brazilian, including that for Copacabana Beach (1970), and the Fazenda Vargem Grande, a private estate in Sao Paolo(1979)—as well as mammoth display of bromeliads—are on show in “The unnatural art of the garden” until 13 August.
Marx, who studied to be a painter and architect, is considered to be the Americas’ greatest garden artist. He was the one whose bold, abstract patterns and gutsy use of the exuberant plants of the Brazilian jungle constituted a new style suited to the massiveness of buildings by Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer, both of whom he knew. Many of his gardens echo the forms of Miro, Calder and Arp, but also include mosaics and sculpture of his own design. He studied botany with the head of Rio de Janeiro’s zoological garden and has been trying to defend Brazil’s rain forests for the last forty years. To acompany the exhibition, its curator, William Howard Adams has written Roberto Burle Marx: the unnatural art of the garden (Moma, distributed by Harry N.Abrams) 80 pp. 41 b/w 50 colour plates $19.95.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'MoMA: Gardens are art too'