Burle Marx

Burle MarxMy good friends from Miami own and operate a successful landscape business, they impressed upon me the beauty of landscape as an “art-form”, and then introduced me to the work of a Brazilian legend.

Burle Marx, as he’s known, was the greatest thing to ever happen to plants in Brazil. He’s internationally known as one of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century. An artist of multiple facets, besides being a landscape designer he was also a remarkable painter, sculptor, singer, and jewelry designer, with a sensibility that is shown throughout his work.

Born in São Paulo (August 4, 1909 – Rio June 4, 1994), Roberto Burle Marx moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1913. During the years of 1928 and 1929 he studied painting in Berlin – Germany, where he was often seen at the Dahlem Botanic Garden’s greenhouses. In this garden he noticed for the first time the beauty of the tropical plants and the Brazilian flora.

His first landscape project was a private garden for a house designed by the Architects Lucio Costa and Gregory Warchavchik in 1932. Since then, his landscape works improved as well as his painting and drawing.

Roberto Burle Marx

In 1949, Burle Marx bought a 365,000 square meter estate in Barra de Guaratiba, in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where he started organizing his incredible collection of plants.

Sítio Roberto Burle Marx

One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited in Brazil is the Roberto Burle Marx home and gardens outside Rio. Burle Marx bought the Santo Antonio da Bica sítio in 1949 to store his plant collection. The sítio has a marvelous house and a small chapel that dates back to the 16th century. Both buildings were lovingly restored and Burle Marx lived there from 1973 until his death in 1994. The chapel is available for weddings, ladies and gentlemen!! In 1985, the property was donated to the Brazilian government in trust for posterity and became a National Monument. It is now called Sítio Roberto Burle Marx.

Sitio Roberto Burle Marx

In an area of approximately 100 acres, visitors can see more than 3,500 species of plants, an extraordinary collection of religious images and pottery from the River Jequitinhonha Valley, and, of course, Burle Marx’s own paintings. If you wish to be amazed and enjoy a couple of hours walking and gawking at a remarkable collection of bromeliads, heliconias and tens of dozens of plant species with long Latin names, it’s awe inspiring!

There are two daily tours by appointment (9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.) and you’ll need someone to drive you there or you can take a bus that will drop you off nearby; call (021) 2410-1412 / 2410-1171 for appointments and information.

Sitio Burle Marx Rio de Janeiro

In 1955, Burle Marx founded a landscape company, called Burle Marx & Cia. Ltda. (Burle Marx & Company), where he started to develop landscape design, along with the implementation and maintenance of his residential and public gardens. In 1968, Haruyoshi Ono, a landscape architect, became his partner. Burle Marx & Cia. Ltda. landscape studio, created by Roberto Burle Marx in 1955. The office develops landscape projects, and implements, maintains, and restores gardens. It is also requested as a consulting board, giving supervision and orientation in landscape and environmental issues. In addition, it owns a small nursery that produces and sells plants.

In 1985, Burle Marx donated this estate to a federal government cultural organization, Pró-Memória National Foundation, which is nowadays called National Institute for Cultural Heritage – IPHAN.
Roberto Burle Marx died in Rio de Janeiro in 1994, at the age of 84.

Burle Marx CopacabaIf you asked most people in Rio what Burle Marx is famous for and 9 times out of ten their going to tell you it’s the abstract wave design in the side walks of Copacabana Beach and other beaches of Rio. In many ways this cool wave concept in landscape design concept was conceived by Roberto Burle Marx, of his inspired concepts, the wave concept may have become his landscape design signature, you see it everywhere you go in Rio de Janeiro and it’s magnificent but the thing that made him famous was his super-creative use of plants.

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One Response to Burle Marx

  1. José Francisco Blanco February 1, 2007 at 1:37 pm #

    En el año 1977, Roberto Burle Marx estuvo en Caracas, Venezuela asesorando el desarrollo paisajístico de un complejo denominado Parque Central, mi primo Arq. Tony Blanco fue su representante en el país. Burle Marx nos obsequió unas pinturas hecha en plumilla, yo poseo una de sus obras, y estoy interesado en venderla,les agradecería me indicaran, la mejor forma para hacerlo, o a través de quien para contactarlos, me pueden escribir al correo indicado. Muchas gracias.

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