The Constant Gardener

The grass is always greener…in the case of famed landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, this was certainly true. The Jewish Museum is showing a beautifully executed retrospective of the life and work of this inventive and multi-talented artist who worked his magic all over the world, creating a body of work unlike any other artist.


Standing in front of the impressive tapestry for Santo Andre Civic Center, 1969

Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist deftly displays his thoughtful creativity and skilled precision. Starting as a painter, he quickly parlayed his talents into a form of landscape architecture previously unseen in the field of gardening. Using mid-century modernist design ideas (many based on painterly concepts) he transformed public spaces into beautiful and fully integrated oases of wit, rigor and lasting beauty. Self-educated about, and an early proponent of, native plantings, he worked to ensure that indigenous flora was incorporated throughout his designs.


Design for the Minister’s Rooftop Garden, Ministry of Education and Health, Rio de Janeiro, 1938

Best known for his iconic design of the Copacabana Beach promenade in Rio de Janeiro, his portfolio of refreshing and imaginative designs quickly captured the attention of a world beyond  Brazil and he received commissions from cities across the globe, both for public and private clients.


In addition to his painting and landscape architecture, he was a jeweler, ceramicist, stained glass artist, printmaker and sketcher. He even hand painted the tablecloths that graced his dining room when guests would come to dinner, one of which is on display (complete with faded food stains!).


Necklace of gold and garnets, 1960s

Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist runs through September 18 and is wholly inspiring, whether or not you possess a green thumb.