Oscar Niemeyer - 1907-2012

Oscar Niemeyer 1907-2012

The legendary architect's life in his own words as told to Phaidon

"I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire universe, the curved universe of Einstein.

"On re-reading this book (The Curves of Time), I feel that it uncovers two distinct personas. One looks on the bright side of life and sees the fun part of it that has always attracted me. The other has a pessimistic view of life and society in general, and is angered by the injustices of this world.

"Both personas were profoundly influenced by architecture as an inner calling, heeded so passionately that it has engaged them both for an entire lifetime. 

"This explains the alternating instances of euphoria and unease that have permeated my mediocre life. it was in relation to by friendships that these mood swings were most intense and heartfelt. 

"I have always cherished my friends and nurtured our friendship. I took great pleasure from taking them along on visits to the Old World. What a joy it was to see some of them enjoying things they had never imagined possible!

"Then there was my family… I have always loved them so!  Whenever I thought of them, from afar, I get so moved, and when I was near them, oh how I loved them! For them, I did my best and gave my all. 

"That is the way I have lived my life.

"I have never been one to look back and regret mistakes. I am a child of nature, a tiny and insignificant part of her, and in her lies the credit or the blame - partly, at any rate - for both my qualities and my faults. This is the way she made me." O.N.

We'll be bringing you more on the life and death of this legend of the architect world later today.


Oscar Niemeyer (1960), Brasília, Brazil shot by René Burri
Oscar Niemeyer (1960), Brasília, Brazil shot by René Burri