This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

26Sep/19

BRAZILIAN MODERN: THE LIVING ART OF ROBERTO BURLE MARX

“Gardens are works of art, and have to be treated as such,” Roberto Burle Marx (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Gardens are works of art, and have to be treated as such,” the multitalented Roberto Burle Marx said (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

The New York Botanical Garden
2900 Southern Blvd., Bronx
Through Sunday, September 29, $10-$28
718-817-8700
www.nybg.org

This is the last weekend to see one of the most beautiful exhibits of the summer, “Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx.” The New York Botanical Garden’s wide-ranging survey of the life and career of São Paulo-born landscape architect and conservationist Roberto Burle Marx is the Bronx institution’s largest botanical exhibition in its history, consisting of plants, painting, sculpture, photographs, quotations, ephemera, and more. The installation is highlighted by a glorious, swirling black-and-white mosaic walkway and Modernist Garden, designed by Burle Marx protégé Raymond Jungles, that leads to a living wall fountain and the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, which is filled with native Brazilian plants and other species. Marx, who passed away in 1994 at the age of eighty-four, brought back many of them from his extensive travels.

“As far as I’m concerned, there are no ugly plants,” Roberto Burle Marx, “Function of the Garden” lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“As far as I’m concerned, there are no ugly plants,” Roberto Burle Marx, “Function of the Garden” lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Blue signs identify Brazilian native plants from Neoregelia and Clusia grandiflora to Aechmea blanchetiana and Philodendron Burle Marx. “One must bring nature into the reach of man and, above all, take man back to nature,” he said in his “Gardens and Landscape” lecture. The display, curated by Edward J. Sullivan, Ph.D., also features a water garden with Bismarck palms, Amazonian water lilies, a dazzling wall of staghorn ferns, a room of Marx’s abstract paintings and tapestries and intricate environmental drawings, a detailed timeline, and an interactive look at the Sítio, which served as his home, a studio, and a salon, where he met with major landscape architects and artists.

“Nature is a complete symphony, in which the elements are all intimately related — size, form, color, scent, movement, etc. . . . . It is . . . an organization endowed with an immense dose of spontaneous activity, possessing its own modus vivendi with the world around it,” Roberto Burle Marx, 1962 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“Nature is a complete symphony, in which the elements are all intimately related — size, form, color, scent, movement, etc. . . . . It is . . an organization endowed with an immense dose of spontaneous activity, possessing its own modus vivendi with the world around it,” Roberto Burle Marx, 1962 (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

It's a pleasure to spend hours with Burle Marx, who appears to have been a friendly man with a vivacious thirst for art in every facet of his life. Interestingly, not much is known about his family situation, despite Dr. Sullivan’s attempts to gather information from those who knew him. But what is known is upbeat and positive, as depicted in photos of him with his thick white hair and bushy mustache and through his many quotes.

“The garden is, it must be, an integral part of civilized life: a deeply felt, deeply rooted, spiritual, and emotional experience,” Roberto Burle Marx, “The Garden as a Form of Art,” 1962 lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

“The garden is, it must be, an integral part of civilized life: a deeply felt, deeply rooted, spiritual, and emotional experience,” Roberto Burle Marx, “The Garden as a Form of Art,” 1962 lecture (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

On Saturday from 1:00 to 4:00, Artes Brasileiras will present live music, while on Sunday the Silva Dance Company will perform at the same time and the Cinema Brasileiro! film series will screen Joao Vargas Penna’s 2018 documentary Landscape Film: Roberto Burle Marx. Do whatever you can to make sure you experience this one-of-a-kind exhibition about a one-of-a-kind artist and environmentalist.

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