Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian architect, has died. Niemeyer, who was 104, was admitted to a Rio de Janeiro hospital with a respiratory infection, the Los Angeles Times reports. Niemeyer's Modernism, a style and school that has gone on to influence countless artists and architects from Latin America and beyond, was inspired by his life in Brazil and its culture. 'Curves are the essence of my work because they are the essence of Brazil, pure and simple,' Niemeyer told the Washington Post in 2002. 'I am a Brazilian before I am an architect. I cannot separate the two.'
His work can be found throughout Brasília, for which he was the lead architect; it is central to the landscaping of São Paulo's Ibirapuera Park, inaugurated in 1954 for the 400th anniversary of the city (where he designed various pavilions, including the Museu de Arte Moderna and the Ibirapuera Auditorium, with its iconic tongue-like canopy); and his designs can be found dotted around Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, as well as Europe and America. After Brasília's completion, the leftist dream of its creators was rudely broken with advent of the 1964 military dictatorship. Niemeyer, who had become a communist in the 1940s in response to Brazil's social inequality (becoming friends with Fidel Castro along the way), fled to Algiers and on to Paris, meeting Picasso and Satre among others. Influenced by Le Corbusier, not least in his love of concrete, Niemeyer's work took on a far more sensual, liquid, and even delicate design. 'He posited the right angle.' Niemeyer said of his forerunner. 'I posit the curve.' Paying tribute, Brazil's president, Dilma Rousseff, said in a statement to The New York Times 'Brazil lost today one of its geniuses. Few dreamed so intensely, and accomplished so much, as he did.'
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