• Oscar Niemeyer, Untitled, undated

    Oscar Niemeyer, Untitled, undated

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Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012)

Posted: 7 December 2012 by ESCALA in News  

The Collection is saddened to hear of Oscar Niemeyer's passing in Brazil on 5 December 2012.  ESCALA has two inspiring sketches of Brasília by Oscar Niemeyer, who has died aged 104 in Rio de Janeiro. They were a generous donation by Professor Edward Sullivan, Helen Gould Sheppard Professor in the History of Art in the Institute of Fine Arts and College of Arts and Sciences at New York University. Niemeyer had made the sketches while Prof. Sullivan was interviewing the architect in relation to the major exhibition Brazil: Body and Soul, which he curated for the Guggenheim, New York, in 2002. Prof. Sullivan presented the sketches to ESCALA when he visited the University of Essex to participate in a symposium on the architecture of Brasília, organised by ESCALA Chair, Prof. Valerie Fraser.

Shortly after Niemeyer's death, Prof. Valerie Fraser received an email from Prof. Sullivan in which he reminisces about the architect and the donation to the Collection. Below is an edited version of the email:

Dear Valerie,

I hope you are very well. I'm writing to you because I am remembering today, two days after the death of the great Brazilian modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer, how successful was the symposium held at Essex [four years ago this week] to honor his 100th birthday. I participated in it and had also given a lecture on my latest research the day before.

This all made me think about your department and the U. of Essex art collection. When I was there for the conference I gave the collection two large scale drawings by Niemeyer, which he had given me when I spent a day with him in 2000 in his Rio de Janeiro studio (I was preparing a large exhibition of Brazilian art at the time for the Guggenheim Museum, NY). Those were drawings which I very much valued and treasured, yet I thought they could have no better long-term home than the Essex art collection which is known far and wide (within the UK and well beyond) as the premier collection of Latin American modern art in Europe. Although we have in New York the great Latin American collection at the MoMA, I envy your having that immensely rich treasure trove of art on-site and are able to use it on a daily basis to instruct your students. There is absolutely nothing like direct access to 'real' works of art from which to learn. I can only hope that the collection grows and prospers. Such fortunate students-- and so fortunate is the entire community in your area that has access to such important works of art!

Anyway, the above are simply a few thoughts I had thinking about Niemeyer, his legacy and the attention paid it by you and your colleagues.

Sincerely,

Edward

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