Photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden
The New York Botanical Garden is celebrating the legacy of famous Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx with one of its most immersive experiences yet: a combination museum, landscape, and performance collection. For the duration of the 2019 summer season, visitors to the botanical garden can expect more than just beautiful foliage but also a breathtaking tribute to Brazil, which combines the art and landscape of Burle Marx with traditional song and dance.
Burle Marx was a principal figure in the Modernist art movement. His works—which can normally be seen in many major cities throughout North and South America—are being celebrated throughout the botanical garden’s 250-acre expanse. What Marx is most famously known for is his “modernist gardens,” which challenged the traditional understanding of landscaping that preceded his work in the late 20th century. This modernist style combined a variety of non-conventional shapes, colors, and textures, which made the garden’s visitors feel as if they were in another world.
The whimsy and vibrancy of Burle Marx’s work was translated onto the front lawn of Haupt Conservatory. The garden (pictured above) combines a variety of multicultural plant life with concrete sculptures and fountains to give attendees a feeling of Brazilian realism. The multi-faceted approach to landscaping reflects the complexity of Brazil’s multi-cultural society, while drawing on the commonality and synergy which exists within the country.
Photo courtesy New York Botanical Garden
“The coolest thing for me is watching the front lawn go from a just a bed of grass to a tropical paradise,” said one of the New York Botanical Garden’s horticulturists. “Normally, we put in an exhibit in about three weeks but with Roberto Burle Marx’s masterpiece we had to start working earlier and harder to get it in.”
Inside the conservatory is a continuation of Burle Marx’s work in the “Explorer’s Garden.” This indoor menagerie of botanic life is a continuation of Burle Marx’s outdoor exhibit with many of the artist’s favorite plants and serves as a tribute to the artists desire to introduce Brazilians to the rich biodiversity around them. It features over several rooms, each with a unique perspective and collection of plant life curated in Marx’s signature modernist style.
Outside the conservatory is the “Water Garden,” a culmination of the New York Botanical Garden’s collection of plants with that of Burle Marx’s plants, celebrates his use scale and botanic whimsy. This exhibit includes a variety of both big and small plants to explore the biodiversity utilized by Burle Marx—some of which may grow leaves up to nine-feet in diameter.
Not far from the Haupt Conservatory is the Mertz Library Building, which houses the botanical garden’s collection of Burle Marx’s other forms of art. Within the walls of the grand library are a combination of fine art and interactive, kid-friendly exhibits. In the 6th floor art gallery, Burle Marx’s drawings, paintings, and textiles are on display in a traditional museum setting. His work in fine art is also inspired by the biodiversity of Brazil and, after you tour the outdoor exhibits, these works illuminate the artist’s strong command of the modernist art form.
On the floor below, explore the interactive world of Brazilian wildlife and conservation through pieces from Burle Marx’s private estate. The walls of his extravagant home are replicated within the halls of the library, helping bring visitors into the abstract world of Burle Marx’s art.
The adjoining Britton Science Gallery offers an even closer look into the mind of the Brazilian artist. The exhibit features plants from three of Brazil’s key biomes and explores the diversity of Brazilian wildlife through the eyes of Burle Marx’s art. Many of the displays showcase pressed flowers and plants which are instrumental in Burle Marx’s work, alongside the work of the New York Botanical Garden’s scientists.
To celebrate both the legacy of Roberto Burle Marx and the wonders of Brazil, the botanical garden is hosting weekend cultural events—such as musical and dance performances—throughout the duration of the summer. These thrilling celebrations of Brazilian song and dance capture the essence of Burle Marx’s inspiration and enrich the experiences of visitors from all around the world—even Brazil! For information regarding these exciting performances, please visit the New York Botanical Garden’s website.
The exhibit, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx, is open through September 29, 2019, and is included with admission to the Botanical Gardens. For more information about Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx, click here, and for more information about other exhibits and tours at the New York Botanical Garden, click here.