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Handwritten letter from Oscar Niemeyer to Athos Bulcão (1957)

Handwritten letter from Oscar Niemeyer to Athos Bulcão (1957)

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At the height of the construction of Brasília, the great Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer selects new collaborators with Athos Bulcão.

  • Handwritten letter, with the architect's letterhead, from Oscar Niemeyer to Athos Bulcão.
  • One page.
  • In Portuguese.
  • 21 cm x 27.6 cm.
  • No information about location (probably Brasilia).
  • 1957, 1958 or 1959.
  • Very thin and fragile tissue paper, small wear on the margins and a larger tear (~2 cm, does not reach the text) on the right side.
  • The list of architects mentioned by Niemeyer was not found.
  • Unique piece.



This is the list of architects. You can also highlight those who attended and contributed to the meeting at my house.

The portrait is to use only the head, if necessary.



In 1956, President Juscelino Kubitschek (1902 - 1976) decided to build Brasília and entrusted the project to Oscar Niemeyer (1907 - 2012). The idea was to transfer the capital from Rio de Janeiro to the interior of the country, populating that region. People from all over the country, especially from the northeast, were hired to build the city, inaugurated in 1960. In this letter the architect still used Oscar Niemeyer Filho on his stationery, an indication that it was written in 1957, 1958 or 1959, when the His father was still alive and Brasília was still under construction.

Firstly, this letter, a proof of Niemeyer's work methodology, provides information about the architects' hiring routine, as in the following extract from Oscar Niemeyer's biography, by Marcos Sá Corrêa:

At that end of the world, I needed a good conversation. I chatted with them about other subjects, I didn't just need to talk about architecture. All together, in a row of popular houses already built. There was little comfort: a living room, two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. My room was small: a cot, a small temporary closet and a bench as a bedside table.

Another notable point is the recipient of the correspondence, O Bulcão, alias Athos Bulcão (1918 - 2008). He was one of Niemeyer's main collaborators and is considered the decorator of Brasília. Bulcão's creations are now part of Brasília's landscape and heritage, especially his famous tiles with geometric shapes and his marble panels. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Athos Bulcão left the capital of Rio for the cerrado in 1958, when he was 40 years old (the time of this letter) and the federal capital was little more than an immense construction site.

Finally, we observe Niemeyer's informal signature that ends his letter with a rare "Oscar".

According to Brasiliana Itaú, "famous as an architect since the 1930s, Niemeyer signed countless sketches, often given to friends. On the other hand, his letters and manuscripts, especially with important content, like this one, are rarer."

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