“Landscapes Like Paintings”
The Press on Roberto Burle Marx at the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle

A major exhibition presented the entire spectrum Roberto Burle Marx’s oeuvre and the Brazilian’s influence on the current art scene. The press is enthusiastic about the variety and topicality of his work.
“Rarely does a landscape architect become a national hero. Yet in Brazil Roberto Burle Marx (1909 to 1994) certainly belongs to the first brigade of star architects,” writes Kito Nedo in Art. “The many exhibits in the show create the image of a man who had the magical talent to transform landscape into art and thus not only give decisive impetus to Latin American modernism, but also inspire contemporary architects and artists up to the present day.” In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Boris Pofalla says that Burle Marx‘ encounter with tropical plants in the greenhouses of the Botanical Garden in Berlin was “the beginning of a unique career between art and nature.” He writes: “His tropical gardens transfer abstraction from the canvas to flowerbeds. (…). Outside of South America Roberto Burle Marx is not very well known. His work is rooted there in the true sense of the world. All the better that people can now become acquainted with it in an exhibition.” Bernhard Schulz from Tagesspiegel takes a similar view: “Roberto Burle Marx, one of the great twentieth-century landscape architects, is hardly known here in Germany. And probably even fewer people know that his life is so closely tied to Berlin. So it is a very good thing that the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle acquainted visitors with the artist’s lifework in an exhibition organized by the Jewish Museum in New York.” “Influential and unknown,” the Magazin writes, putting it in a nutshell. “His career goal was clear: He wanted to become a landscape gardener and became the most important landscape architect of the twentieth century,” remarks Marcus Woeller in his enthusiastic and extensive review for the Welt. “The exhibition shows that he was also a painter, sculptor, architect, and universal artist in the best sense, presenting paintings, models, and garden designs from all of his artistic periods.”

“Burle Marx‘ landscapes are like paintings,” declares Friedhelm Teicke in tip. And Donna Schons from taz also stresses the parallels between his artistic works and his garden designs: “At first glance they are more similar to modernist paintings than architectural sketches. Flowerbeds become twisted blots, light and dark sections of grass form checkered patterns, and lines arranged in star shapes stand for palms.” “The Deutsche Bank KunstHalle,” writes Angela Hohmann in the Berliner Morgenpost, “devoted an exhibition to the Brazilian genius that makes one thing clear in particular: Roberto Burle Marx was not only a landscape architect. He could work with a single motif in all kinds of media. On view at the KunstHalle are abstract paintings, ceramics, jewelry, set and costume designs, as well as versions of azulejo tiles known in Spain and Portugal.” In Monopol Silke Hohmann also emphasizes the Brazilian’s versatility: “Burle Marx was a modern Renaissance artist: He sang operas, painted, designed jewelry, and became famous for his gardens.” “He was a poet who versified with plants,” writes BZ. “The exhibition Brazilian Modernist unfolds his oeuvre consisting of tapestries, paintings, photographs, and designs in search of a lost paradise,” writes Jürgen Claus in Kunstzeitung.

The French-language Berlin website vivreaberlin believes it is an “exhibition you definitely have to see.” Zitty calls it a “concentrated overview of this modernist multi-talent.” And such varied media as Blouin Artinfo, the online architecture magazine Marlowes, Wirtschaftswoche, Gala, Kunstmarkt, Himbeer Magazin for people with children, Critical Mass, a website for cycling fans, and the design magazine Dear recommended the show.

“Roberto Burle Marx, the founder of modern garden architecture, was a utopist and practitioner in equal measure who firmly believed in the power of public space,” avers Deutschlandfunk Kultur, which also broadcast a discussion at the KunstHalle titled “Parks as Democratic Spaces.” Raimar Stange of artmagazin calls the Brazilian the  “progenitor of a ‘Green Architecture,” praising the “cleverly curated exhibition.” In Kunst und Film Hannah Osterkorn regrets that one of his last designs for the renovation of Rosa Luxemburg Square in Berlin was not realized: “In 1993, Burle Marx submitted exceedingly imaginative plans that included various zones, a water basin with colorful sculptures, and wildly moving paving. The authorities rejected his original plans, finding them unsuitable; today neatly trimmed grass grows there.”

“Alongside Oscar Niemeyer he is one of the major protagonists of Brazilian modernism,” writes Lisa Zeitz in Weltkunst. “Burle Marx‘ general theme,” declares Bernhard Schulz in Bauwelt, “is richness, luxuriousness, surplus—but a richness directed to everyone, available to everyone. Without this utopian aspect Brazilian modernism (…) cannot be understood.” According to Niklas Maak of the Frankfurter Allgemeine, “At the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, we can understand how Burle Marx first painted figuratively, then translated the movements of dancers and leaves into increasingly abstract forms, and subsequently designed gardens that look like abstract monumental paintings of plants. Cool modernism is softened up in the garden, heated up, put into motion, made to grow—and suddenly it is not so far away from the overflowing, staggering, violent swinging of the baroque, whose excesses it once feared.”