In 1942 Niemeyer’s widely reported designs for the luxury housing development at Pampulha and the exhibition Brazil  Builds (1943) at moma in New York were again vital in disseminating the developments in Brazil to the wider world. Niemeyer’s conspicuous involvement on the design for the United Nations headquarters building during the years 1947–50, under the leadership of the American architect Wallace K. Harrison, made Brazilian modern architecture in effect the image of world government – indeed modern government in general, thinking of Harrison’s later design for Albany civic centre in upstate New York.

At the same time, the São Paulo Bienal, an event of remarkable bravura founded by the Italian-Brazilian industrialist Ciccillo Matarazzo, turned early 1950s Brazil into a clearing house of global visual culture. In its first manifestation in 1951, the Bienal managed to borrow, quite remarkably, Picasso’s famous Guernica from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Finally, the adventure of Brasília during 1957–60, the biggest single building project in world history up to that point, showed the ambitions of Brazilian Modernism to be unsurpassed.

The heroic period of Brazilian Modernism belongs not just to Brazil, but also to world history. The listing of Brasília as a unesco World Heritage Site in 1987 is important confirmation. Brasília is where many histories of Brazilian Modernism stop. As the Brazilian critic Ruth Verde Zein has put it, because of the military coup in 1964, and the subsequent close identification of the capital with the new regime, Modernism and authoritarian politics became closely linked in the minds of many in the mostly liberal or left-leaning intelligentsia.
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