Landscape historian comments on work of Brazil's Roberto Burle Marx

Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx came along to shape his country's exuberant flora and realized that the vegetation Brazilians then dismissed as scrub and brush was truly extraordinary. To honor Marx, the Paco Imperial Museum is hosting an exhibition that includes nearly 100 of his paintings, as well as drawings, sculptures, tapestries, jewelry, and costumes he designed for theatrical productions. The goal is to show how his work in one field bled into his work in the others. "The way he synthesized art and horticulture in three-dimensional design is really quite exceptional," said Mirka Benes, a landscape historian at The University of Texas at Austin. "He truly had a painter's eye, which you could sense in his superb sense of color and form, and he had an understanding of the tenets of Modernism and Dada, having clearly known and studied the work of people like Hans Arp."

Burle Marx's most elaborate effort may have been an abandoned estate he bought on the outskirts of the city in 1948 and turned into a home, studio and garden complex. Now a national landmark and tourist attraction with more than 3,500 species of plants, it functioned as his workshop, laboratory and office until his death in 1994.

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