Roberto Burle Marx

Influential landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx left his creative mark not only in his native Brazil but in over 2000 gardens and public urban spaces he designed in over 20 countries including the United States, France, Germany, Argentina, Venezuela and Peru.

Roberto Burle Marx
Top: aerial images of the Copacabana boardwalk, photographs by Bruno Veiga as featured in his book Portuguese Stones; Bottom: mineral roof garden, Banco Safra headquarters, Sao Paulo, photograph by Leonardo Finotti

One of the most influential landscape architects of the 20th century, Roberto Burle Marx (1909 – 1994) was also a painter, print maker, ecologist and musician. He was a visionary so ahead of his time that he makes one wonder how he fit all his accomplishments into one lifetime. A renowned artist, Marx’s geometric and abstract landscape work followed the same graphic nature as his paintings and tapestries and he is credited with having introduced modernist landscape architecture to Brazil. Marx’s iconic seaside pavement designs running along Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach are his most recognised and well-documented works.

“By organising native plants in accordance with the aesthetic principles of the artistic vanguard, especially Cubism and abstractionism, he created a new and modern grammar for international landscape design.” – Lauro Cavalcanti, curator Paco Imperial Museum

Roberto Burle Marx
Top: Roberto Burle Marx was instrumental in conservation of the Brazilian rainforest; Bottom: the iconic seaside pavement design along Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Often venturing on expeditions into the Brazilian rainforest with botanists and photographers in search of rare and exotic plants, he was enthusiastic about environmental preservation and conservation. He even discovered new plant species on these botanical trips – over 50 plants bear his name (such as Heliconia burle-marxii) and Marx amassed a sizeable collection of plants in his own astounding home and garden.

“…the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant – rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance – but it is also a colour, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself.” – Roberto Burle Marx

Roberto Burle Marx
Roberto Burle Marx’s own home in Brazil. Photographs by Filippo Poli, www.subtilitas.site

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