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Le Corbusier -
The Art of Architecture
19 February-24 May 2009
Le Corbusier (1887-1965), widely acclaimed as the most influential architect of the 20th century, was also a celebrated thinker, writer and artist — a multi-faceted "renaissance man." His architecture and radical ideas for reinventing modern living, from private villas to large scale social housing to utopian urban plans, still resonate today.
Le Corbusier - The Art of Architecture is the first major survey in London of the internationally renowned architect in more than 20 years. This timely reassessment presents a wealth of original architectural models, interior reconstructions, drawings, furniture, vintage photographs, films, tapestries, paintings, sculpture and books by Le Corbusier himself. It also features important works by his collaborators and artistic contemporaries such as Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Fernand Léger and Amédée Ozenfant.
The exhibition charts how Le Corbusier’s work changed dramatically over the years; from his early houses inspired by the regional vernacular of his native Switzerland, the iconic Purist architecture and interiors for which he is best known, his master plan for Paris in the 1920s, the shift to organic forms in the 1930s, and the dynamic synthesis achieved between his art and architecture as exemplified by his chapel at Ronchamp (1950-55), and his civic buildings in Chandigarh, India (1952-64).
Highlights include a monumental mural painting, Femme et coquillage IV (1948) from his own office at Rues de Sèvres, Paris; a reconstruction of his Plan Voisin for Paris (1925); a complete original kitchen by Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand from his famous Unité d’habitation, Marseille (1947-50); original models of Ronchamp (1950-55), Unité d’habitation (1945-52), Parliament Building Chandigarh (1951-64) amongst others; and the film version of Le Corbusier and Edgard Varèse’s Poème Electronique (1958).
The exhibition has been curated by Le Corbusier scholars, Stanislaus von Moos and Arthur Rüegg, alongside VITRA Design Museum curator Mateo Kries. It is organised by VITRA Design Museum in co-operation with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Trust and the Netherlands Architecture Insititute.
The Barbican presentation of the exhibition, a collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Trust who open the show in Liverpool this autumn, will include a number of significant additions, among them Fernand Leger’s The Baluster (1925), on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Originally exhibited in the Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau, which Le Corbusier designed for the 1925 International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris, this is a very rare opportunity for this important work to be seen in London.
Barbican’s celebration of Le Corbusier highlights this connection between the arts with a full programme of concerts, films and talks to accompany the exhibition, including a day (7 March 2009) presented by the BBC Symphony Orchestra dedicated to the composer Iannis Xenakis who worked as an architect in Le Corbusier’s studio. The exhibition also offers a unique opportunity to see the influence of Le Corbusier’s architecture and ideas on the Barbican complex, designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bonn in the late 1950s.
Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, Poissy, 1928-31. Photographer Mondadori Electa/Arcaid.co.uk, courtesy of Arcaid, © FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009.
Le Corbusier, Notre Dame du Haut chapel, Ronchamp, 1955, Photo credit: Bildarchiv Monheim/arcaid.co.uk, © FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009.
Le Corbusier, Unité d’habitation de Marseille, roof view, 1946-52, © FLC, Paris and DACS, London 2009.
Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand. Fauteuil à dossier basculant, 1928, © FLC/ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2009.