The Modernist Garden
The Modernist Garden had the honor of being the grand entrance to the New York Botanical Garden’s largest botanical exhibition, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx. The exhibition, at the edge of New York’s concrete jungle, celebrated the life and legacy of Brazilian modernist artist, landscape architect, and conservationist, Roberto Burle Marx. […] … Read More
The Modernist Garden had the honor of being the grand entrance to the New York Botanical Garden’s largest botanical exhibition, Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx. The exhibition, at the edge of New York’s concrete jungle, celebrated the life and legacy of Brazilian modernist artist, landscape architect, and conservationist, Roberto Burle Marx. 244,000 visitors experienced this horticultural tribute from June through September 2019.
The Conservatory Lawn, an unassuming grass expanse, was boldly transformed into a verdant nirvana and immersive experience of the senses. The 25,000 sq. ft. Modernist Garden, with over 50 species of predominantly tropical plants, displayed the exuberance of Brazilian Modern through the lens of the landscape architect’s unrelenting admiration for Burle Marx.
The garden was ambitiously installed in just two weeks. Many 35-foot-tall palms and specimen cycads, donated by the landscape architect and others, arrived safely to the Bronx via large semi-trucks that originated in Florida. The timeframe for the installation was shortened due to extended cold temperatures at the project site in late May 2019. The landscape architect utilized many of Burle Marx’s favorite palm species, such as the Copernicia Baileyana and Attalea cohune.
A serpentine black-and-white walkway guided over 244,000 visitors through a succession of garden moments and offered shaded canopies to pause and admire interpretive signage that told stories about Roberto Burle Marx and his design legacy.
Swaths of colorful groundcovers acted as focal points before the big reveal of a unique water feature interpretation of Burle Marx’s mural at the Banco Safra building in São Paulo, Brazil. The sound of water filled the main space and acted as a soundtrack to the garden’s centerpiece. Visitors happily congregated for events and enjoyed tranquil views in many of the pockets in and around the Modernist Garden.
Following Burle Marx’s principles of creating beauty and community, the Modernist Garden was activated daily with public programming for all ages, including interactive samba lessons,
Afro-Brazilian martial art, and Brazilian plant tours. It was also the highlight of the Garden’s annual Conservatory Ball, hosting esteemed guests for the cocktail hour before dinner and dancing in the Conservatory Tent. The Brazilian Modern exhibition also included a curated gallery of his paintings, prints, drawings, and textiles, further revealing his connection between his art and environmental stewardship.