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Oscar Niemeyer and the Architecture of Brazil [Anglais] [Relié]

David Underwood


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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  2 commentaires
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4.0 étoiles sur 5 Interesting but Flawed 19 mars 2002
Par Richard R - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Oscar Niemeyer is Brazil's best-known architect. Famous for his monumental buildings in Brasilia, for the U.N. complex in New York, and his reputation for failed social engineering based on a convenient sort of elitist communism. Underwood's book is a strong introduction to Niemeyer's work, but like Niemeyer's buildings, it has flaws both in design and execution. Niemeyer was born in 1907, and combined a Rio de Janeiro sensibility (deriving inspiration from waves, women's figures, and palm trees) with an assertively modernist approach to architecture. Underwood points out that he went through several distinct periods: his early assimilation of architectural trends including a passion for Le Corbusier's then-revolutionary ideals; a period of introspective critical review that led to a more disciplined style (and Brasilia); followed by years of exile during the military regimes; and finally a return home as the leftist granddaddy of Brazilian modernism.
Niemeyer struggled with what Underwood calls the "Brazilian dilemma," the fact that he sympathized with the poor workingman but designed for and was paid by the wealthy elite. In fact, there really is no dilemma at all. He was a brilliant architectural innovator, but his work contributed next to nothing to the lives of ordinary Brazilians.. He changed forever views on architecture, he breathed life into formal Corbusian structures, but his works never realized his vision of making cities more livable and egalitarian. And the more he tried, the more uncomfortable were his creations. He was forever dependent on the elites and politicos who commissioned his works and bent the rules to get them built. "Modern architectural innovation in Brazil was the stepchild of authoritarian politics and the jeito brasileiro."
The book is good. The large format and excellent photos make it easy to follow the trajectory of his career (although one flaw is the lack of a useful city map or aerial photo of Brasilia). Underwood has a good grasp of the architect's jargon, occasionally spinning off..., but generally staying on course. Yet, [I feel] the title is a misnomer. There is no biographical material about Niemeyer himself. The book follows his career, building by building, without any discussion at all of Niemeyer the man. Nor is there thoughtful discussion of the many negative judgements of Niemeyer's buildings with their naïve utopianism, unlivability, and their excessive concern with form over function. Finally, in the final pages, Underwood seems to sour a bit on Niemeyer's flimsy socialist sentiments and takes a more critical perspective. "This is the strongest link between [Rio's] Samba Stadium and Brasilia, expensive projects that purport to give something truly Brazilian back to the people in fact not so subtly take it away."
And on the last page, he [seems to realize] there is something fundamentally wrong with Niemeyer's insistence on designing monumental modernist structures that people don't want to work in or live in, all in the name of social and aesthetic progress. "The important challenge of going beyond attractive appearances and imagining functions genuinely appropriate to the formidable problems of a developing nation continues to take a backseat to creating seductive forms that express the elitist status quo in a way that masks its inequalities or makes them seem acceptable." ...
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beautiful city 3 août 2013
Par Alice G. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
I have always loved Brasilia and this book does it justice with its wonderful pictures. The service was excellent and on time
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