The New York Botanical Garden opens an extensive show on Roberto Burle Marx

With landscapes from Raymond Jungles, Modern Brazilian: the living art of Roberto Burle Marx is the largest botanical exhibition ever organized by the NYBG.

The “Modernist Garden” section of the exhibition Courtesy of NYBG

The New York Botanical Garden’s new summer exhibit, Modern Brazilian: the living art of Roberto Burle Marxcelebrates the influential Brazilian modernist landscape architect, plant explorer, conservationist and artist Roberto Burle Marx.

On view until September 29, the exhibition, which features lush gardens, is also the first to combine a horticultural homage to Burle Marx’s design work with a gallery of his paintings, drawings and textiles, which reveal all the connections between his artistic practice and commitment to environmental conservation. It is the largest botanical exhibition in the garden, in terms of scope, plantings and area.

Burle Marx (1909-1994) was a major figure in the modernist landscape art and architecture movement in Latin America during the second half of the 20th century. His vision produced thousands of gardens and landscapes, including the famous curved mosaic walkways of Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, his adopted home.

The exhibition highlights the ideas and work of Burle Marx through installations centered on the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, as well as a specially planted “Modernist Garden,” created by Miami-based landscape architect Raymond Jungles and protege of Burle Marx.

In addition to drawing inspiration from the Banco Safra building in Brazil, Jungles’ design for the modernist garden also drew inspiration from several of Burle Marx’s projects: his garden at Edmundo Cavanellas’ residence in Petrópolis, Brazil; his garden on the roof of the Ministry of Education and Public Health in Rio; and his Parque del Este in Caracas, Venezuela. Courtesy of NYBG

In the modernist garden, which was planted on part of NYBG’s conservatory lawn and whose sidewalk recalls the walkways of Burle Marx’s Copacabana Beach, strikingly patterned paths lead through sweeping curvilinear flowerbeds, bringing visitors to an open plaza with a large water feature framed by a wall carved in relief. (Jungles says the wall is inspired by an installation by Burle Marx at Banco Safra’s headquarters in São Paulo.) The modernist garden’s plant palette includes bromeliads, elephant ears and colorful annuals, as well as specimens of mature palms – mostly Brazilian and Caribbean natives – that were imported from Florida.

The modernist garden, however, is only one painting among many. The ‘Explorer’s Garden’ in the Winter Garden features tropical rainforest plants and philodendrons. In the “water garden,” also in the veranda, palms set the scale, bromeliads provide the texture, and a wall of staghorn ferns lends a sense of botanical whimsy. In the conservatory’s water lily pool, tropical lilies and other favorite aquatic plants of Burle Marx are featured, as is a hybrid of Victoria amazonica, whose leaves can reach up to nine feet in diameter. The conservatory gardens were designed by NYBG staff with Francisca Coelho, retired NYBG Vice President for Greenhouses and Exhibits.

Roberto Burle Marx painting in the loggia of his house in the 1980s. Courtesy of Claus Meyer / Tyba

In the Britton Rotunda area of ​​the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Gardens, the “Art of the Sitio” exhibit brings to life the Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, the Rio estate the artist purchased in 1949. The Sitio houses a nursery , several gardens, greenhouses, studio and the house of Burle Marx, where he received friends and colleagues, including architects Lúcio Costa, Rino Levi and Oscar Niemeyer, and landscape architects Conrad Hamerman, Haruyoshi Ono and Jungles. Alongside “Art of the Sitio” is a gallery that explores plants of particular ethnobotanical and economic importance in Brazil, including Burle Marx’s own botanical study of Brazilian plants and the work of NYBG scientists in the region.

Jungles first heard of Burle Marx in a college textbook while studying at the University of Florida. The two met in person when Burle Marx gave a talk in Miami in 1979. They became friends, and Burle Marx invited Jungles to visit and observe him in his Sitio. In an essay from the exhibition catalog, Jungles said, “I would follow him everywhere, whatever he was doing. I was there at least once a year… He stayed with us at least two or three times a year… He knew how to live, he knew how to take advantage of every moment of his life, and he was always creating. That’s what brought him joy. »

The garden of Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, 2014. In the exhibition catalogue, Jungles states that “the mission of all gardens in general is to bring nature into people’s daily lives. And that’s definitely one of the things [Burle Marx] tried to do. Roberto has selected and introduced plants in his creations for people to appreciate them… The Sitio is absolutely my favorite garden. It’s the one I’ve spent the most time enjoying. And it was basically his living lab. Courtesy of Livia Comandini/Getty Images

Discussing Burle Marx’s influence on his own practice, Jungles said, “Roberto always brought out the beauty and natural characteristics of plants. It’s something that’s easily visible in my work… His sense of the bones of the garden – the harsh landscape, the pavement, the structures – were things so powerful that they could stand upright even if the plants weren’t. properly maintained. fashion. It really touched me.

In an interview last week with Metropolis, Jungles said that “Marx’s philosophy and position on the environment is probably more needed today than ever. Introducing people to gardens and nature is more necessary than ever as cities become denser and less livable.

NYBG visitors, as well as Burle Marx aficionados who can’t make it in person, can download a mobile guide to the exhibit. This allows users to create virtual landscaping in the style of Burle Marx, enjoy a playlist of Brazilian music, take a “vegetable personality” quiz, play a game to learn more about rainforest plants and saving them, and watching videos about plants connected to Burle Marx. .

You can also take advantage of “Measuring the true value of trees”.

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