Oscar Niemeyer The Man Who Built Brasilia

The Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is proud to stage Japan's first major retrospective of the work of Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), father of Brazilian modernist architecture.

The unique creativity of Niemeyer's designs for prominent buildings in his native Brazil earned him tributes both at home and abroad, including a raft of architectural awards such as the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, Pritzker Architecture Prize, and Japan's Praemium Imperiale as well as the International Lenin Peace Prize. "Oscar Niemeyer - The Man Who Built Brasilia" will present a comprehensive overview - incorporating plans, models, photographs and video footage - of close to a century of architectural design by the legendarily charismatic Niemeyer, who was still indefatigably turning out new designs right up to his death at the age of 104.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, Oscar Niemeyer studied architecture at Rio's National School of Fine Arts before going on to work with his mentor Lúcio Costa. Following an encounter with Le Corbusier, Niemeyer worked with the modernist master in the design of the Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro (1936) under the coordination of Lúcio Costa.
Already famous in his own right after having designed Pampulha architectural complex, Niemeyer worked with Le Corbusier again in designing the United Nations Headquarters in New York (1947). Niemeyer's greatest achievement however would have to be the building of the new capital Brasilia, Brazil's preeminent national project of the 1950s. Designing several of the major buildings (including the National Congress building and Cathedral of Brasília), Niemeyer created a city of the imagination. The triumph of Brasilia took on historical significance above and beyond its architectural brilliance, raising Brazil's international profile, and in 1987, earning its unique capital World Heritage status.
During the country's military regime of the 1960s, Niemeyer moved to Paris and based his practice there for 20 years, returning to his native land in 1985 and continuing to work prolifically, at the same time endeavoring to nurture his successors.

Niemeyer, who always insisted on the importance of art in architecture, had been gifted at drawing from a young age, and found that if he looked at his pictures for long enough, they began to feel real. Niemeyer's designs are suffused with the boldness and freedom of freehand drawing, and the physicality with which these traits are converted into spatial form, and distinguished by organic, dynamic lines likened to the curves of a woman's body, and a harmonious blend of vitality and modernist geometry.

Their futuristic shapes have also served as an inspiration to many Japanese architects.

As Brazil and Japan celebrate 120 years of diplomatic relations and Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the Olympics in 2016,
"Oscar Niemeyer - The Man Who Built Brasilia" will showcase a century of this great architect and son of Rio.

Exhibition Highlights

1. Models of some of Niemeyer's foremost buildings, in various sizes, will be on display including in the museum's approximately 500㎡ atrium, allowing visitors to experience for themselves the dynamism of his designs.

2. The venue design is courtesy of SANAA (Sejima and Nishizawa and Associates), architects greatly influenced by Niemeyer, with enormous respect for his work.

Taking as basenote a white conjuring up the brilliant light of Brazil, SANAA have put together a setting for the exhibition that is dynamic and modern, yet characterized by organic curves.

3. The exhibition will also include video material showing Oscar Niemeyer's day-to-day life and revealing the secrets of his creativity, plus detailed documents concerning the construction of grand capital city Brasilia.

Now Showing in the exhibition gallery
"Oscar Niemeyer:un architecte engage dans le siecle"(2001)
[An architect committed to his century]
A Film by Marc-Henri Wajnberg
Duration: 60 min
Language: Portuguese
Subtitles: English/Japanese

Screening starts at
*Oscar Niemeyer exhibition ticket is needed



Ibirapuera Park Model (scale 1/30) ,
Exhibition view,"Oscar Niemeyer The Man Who Built Brasilia", Museum Of Contemporary Art Tokyo, 2015
Photo: noguchinaoto architect's

Still photography is permitted in "Oscar Niemeyer: The Man Who Built -Brasilia" under the following policies:
-You cannot take pictures of works with the No Photo Sign.
-Please refrain from using flash or tripods.
-Photography for commercial use is not permitted.
-Videotaping is not permitted.
-Please refrain from photographing other visitors, as it may infringe of their portrait rights.
-The photographer will bear full responsibility concerning the use of photographs.
Neither the museum nor artist will bear any responsibility whatsoever.
*Concerning photography for news coverage, please contact the museum for permission.

Organized by

Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo,

Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo, Ministry of Culture of Brazil,

Nikkei Inc.


"This Exhibition is the first event of the Brazilian Cultural Festival in Japan 2015|2016"

Exective Production in Brazil

Base 7

Exhibition Design


Model Design and Production

noguchinaoto architect's

In Collaboration with

Oscar Niemeyer Foundation

Supported by

Vale, Itau, Mitsui, Turkish Airlines, Mitsubishi, ANBEC, Google , Yokohama National University

Moreira Salles Institute, National Archive of Brazil, Casa de Lúcio Costa, Etel, Videofilmes, Paulo Werneck Foundation, NHK, Tomie Ohtake Institute,
Cultural Foundation - Belo Horizonte City Prefecture, O2 Filmes, Tendo Mokko







From top to bottom

Contemporary Art Museum, Niterói,Photo: Takashi Homma 2002
Metropolitan Cathedral, Brasilia,Photo: Leonardo Finotti
Pampulha Complex - S. F. Assis Church, Belo Horizonte, Photo: Leonardo Finotti 
Casa das Canoas, Photo: Takashi Homma 2002
Mentouri University, Constantine, Photo: Leonardo Finotti
Ibirapuera Auditorium, São Paulo, Photo: Leonardo Finotti

Oscar Niemeyer Biography


+81 Voyage Magazine   Photo by Hiroshi Hatate

1907: Oscar Niemeyer was born on December 15, 1907, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
1934: Graduated from the architecture department of the National Academy of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro.
1935: Joined the design studio of Lúcio Costa.
1936: Joined the design team of The Ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro consisting of Lúcio Costa, Carlos Leão, Jorge Moreira, Affonso Reidy and Ernani Vasconcelos. Niemeyer met for the first time with Le Corbusier, who was invited to collaborate on the project.
1937: Received his first private commission - Obra do Berço - Rio de Janeiro.
1938: Designed the Brazilian Pavilion for the New York World's Fair in collaboration with Lúcio Costa.
1939: Designed the Pampulha Architectural Complex, invited by the Mayor of Belo Horizonte - Juscelino Kubitschek - who would later become President of Brazil.1945: Joined the Brazilian Communist Party.
1947: Joined the architect international committee responsible for the design of the United Nations Headquarters in New York
1952: Designed Casa das Canoas, Rio de Janeiro.
1956: President Juscelino Kubitschek appointed Niemeyer to be the chief architect of Brasilia, the new capital of Brazil, and also participated as a jury member of the capital plan competition.
1957-1958: Design of the new capital Presidential residence (Alvorada Palace), National Congress of Brazil, Presidential office (Planalto Palace), Federal Supreme Court and so on.
1967: Moved to Paris and and obtained a permission to work as an architect.
1968: Mondadori Publishing House Headquarters, Segrate, Italy.
1969: University of Constantine, Algeria.
1985: Pantheon of the Fatherland and Freedom, Brazil.
1987: Latin America Memorial, São Paulo, Brazil.
1988: Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in Chicago.
1991: Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1996: Awarded the Golden Lion for the Architecture Biennale, 6th International Architecture Exhibition.
1999: Ibirapuera Auditorium in Ibirapuera Park, São Paulo, Brazil.
2002: The Oscar Niemeyer Museum was inaugurated in 2002, Curitiba in the state of Parana, Brazil
2004: Awarded Praemium Imperiale
2012: Niemeyer died, aged 104, on December 5, 2012 in Rio de Janeiro.

Related Event

There will be some events related to 2015 | 2016 Brazilian Cultural Festival
taking place at MOT.

Contact:Embassy of Brazil Cultural and Public Affairs Section
TEL:03-3405-5843 FAX:03-3405-5846

=below events finished=

Gallery Tours by Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Date+Time|August, 29(Sat), 2015 15:00- / September, 27(Sun), 2015 16:00-
Venue|Museum Contemporary Art Tokyo,
Exhibition Gallery B2F
Fee|Free (*Oscar Niemeyer exhibition ticket is needed to gain entry to this event)
※Japanese only

SANAA×Yuko Hasegawa Talk session 'We Love Niemeyer"
Date+Time|August, 22(Sat), 2015 15:00-
Venue|Museum Contemporary Art Tokyo,Auditorium B2F
Speakers|Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), Yuko Hasegawa (Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo)
Fee|Free (*Oscar Niemeyer exhibition ticket is needed to gain entry to this event)

Capacity|200people (numbered ticket system,first-come basis)
*Numbered tickets will be issued at the museum's information counter (situated in the main entrance hall) from 10:00 on Aug.22th from 10:00.
※Japanese only

Date+TimeJuly, 24(Fri), 2015 18:00-20:00
Venue|Museum Contemporary Art Tokyo,Auditorium B2F
SpeakersLeonardo Finotti (architectural Photographer),
Akira Suzuki (Professor of Architecture at Musashino Art University)
ModeratorAndré Corrêa do Lago(Ambassador of Brazil in Tokyo)
Capacity|50people (first-come basis)
※English only

In the first parallel event of "Oscar Niemeyer: the man who built Brasília", photographer Leonardo Finotti will talk about his work as an architectural photographer, focusing on Brazilian architecture; and architectural critic Akira Suzuki will take that as basis to comment on and compare it to Japanese approach to architecture, space and creativity. The panel will be moderated by Ambassador André Corrêa do Lago.

It will be a unique opportunity to learn about Brazilian architecture through the lenses of one of the leading architectural photographer, and understand it in comparison and contrast to Japan' s own architectural tradition, drawn by Professor Akira Suzuki.
LEONARDO FINOTTI is a Bachelor of Architecture by Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (Brasil), and has focused on architectural photography since before graduation. He has worked in Portugal, Germany and Brazil, besides shooting in various other countries. His images of Oscar Niemeyer's buildings make up one of the most thorough contemporary photography archives on the master's works (www.leonardofinotti.com)

AKIRA SUZUKI is a Professor of Architecture at Musashino Art University. An architectural critic, Ms. Suzuki is also curates architectural exhibitions, workshops for children, and is author of books on contemporary urban and residential design. His research focus on revising and redefining cities, architecture, furniture, products, and all other aspects of the built environment.



July 18(sat) -Oct 12 (mon) 2015

Closed on

Mondays (except 7.20, 9.21, 10.12),7.21, 9.24


Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (MOT) Exhibition Gallery B2F

Opening Hours

10:00-18:00 (opens until 21:00 on every Frinday from July to September)
*Last admission to the gallery floor & last ticket purchase is 30minutes before the closing hour.


Adults: 1,100yen/ University Students, Over 65: 800yen/ High School & Junior High Students: 600yen/ Elementary School & Under: Free
*Free entry to MOT collection ticket holders


From Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station on the Hanzomon Line: 9min. walk from the B2 exit.
From Kiyosumi-Shirakawa Station on the Toei Oedo Line: 13min. walk from the A3 exit.


+81-3-5245-4111(General Information)
+81-3-5405-8686(Hello Dial)

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