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Artists Le Corbusier
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Le Corbusier

Swiss-French Modern Architect, Urban Planner, Designer, Sculptor, Painter, and Writer

Movements and Styles: Modern Architecture, The International Style, Purism, Brutalism

Born: October 6, 1887 - La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland

Died: August 27, 1965 - Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France

Le Corbusier Timeline

Quotes

"A hundred times I have thought: New York is a catastrophe, and fifty times: it is a beautiful catastrophe."
Le Corbusier
"Purism strives for an art free of conventions which will utilize plastic constants and address itself above all to the universal properties of the senses and the mind."
Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant, from Purist manifesto
"The various classes of workers in society today no longer have dwellings adapted to their needs; neither the artisan nor the intellectual. It is a question of building which is at the root of the social unrest today; architecture or revolution."
Le Corbusier
"In my architecture exegesis, I speak only of music. I don't know the notes, but architecture, like music, is time and space, an art of successive sensations brought into a symphony."
Le Corbusier
"I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies."
Le Corbusier
"To be modern is not a fashion, it is a state. It is necessary to understand history, and he who understands history knows how to find continuity between that which was, that which is, and that which will be."
Le Corbusier
"Negro music has touched America because it is the melody of the soul joined with the rhythm of the machine. It is in two part time; tears in the heart; movement of the legs, torso arms and head. The music of the era of construction; innovating. It floods the body and heart; it floods the USA and its floods the world. The jazz is more advanced than the architecture. If architecture were at the point reached by jazz, it would be an incredible spectacle."
Le Corbusier
"The Engineer's Aesthetic and Architecture - two things that march together and follow one from the other - the one at its full height, the other in an unhappy state of retrogression."
Le Corbusier
"Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Our eyes are made to see forms in light; light and shade reveal these forms; cubes, cones, spheres, cylinders or pyramids are the great primary forms which light reveals to advantage; the image of these is distinct and tangible within us without ambiguity. It is for this reason that these are beautiful forms, the most beautiful forms. Everybody is agreed to that, the child, the savage and the metaphysician."
Le Corbusier
"The city that has speed has success."
Le Corbusier

"Space and light and order. Those are things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep."

Le Corbusier Signature

Synopsis

Few architects have a schnauzer that they name "Pinceau" ("Paintbrush"). Fewer still use their deceased schnauzer's skin and hair as the binding for a copy of Don Quixote. And there are few architects who can compare with the stature of Le Corbusier. This highly polemical designer hailed from obscurity in the Swiss Jura Mountains to become (arguably) the most influential urban planner and architect of the 20th century. He was one of the key designers who formulated the ideas behind a truly modern, avant-garde architecture during the interwar period. Le Corbusier's ideas about immense, rationalized, zoned, and industrially-constructed cities both shocked and seduced a global audience, and while they never came to fruition as a cohesive vision, his disciples put many of their pieces into place around the world, both during and after his lifetime. Over fifty years after his death, Le Corbusier still manages to exercise influence and arouse hatred for his ideas and buildings. His complex ties to politics and the sociological dimensions of architecture - along with his voluminous records and archives - mean that he will continue to be the subject of debates for decades to come.

Key Ideas

Le Corbusier was and remains a highly polemical figure in the history of modern architecture. Widely praised as a visionary whose imaginative plans for urban agglomerations and spaces dramatically transformed our understanding of what a city should be and could look like, he is equally reviled for the soulless monotony that his strand of modernism encouraged and the wanton destruction of the urban fabric that he both championed and prompted among his followers in urban planning during the latter half of the 20th century.
Le Corbusier is one of the major originators of the International Style, along with such contemporaries as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, with whom he once worked, among many others. His work was featured especially prominently in the landmark exhibition in 1932 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York - and subsequent book - that gave the movement its name.
Le Corbusier's role in the birth of modern architecture is magnified because of his ability to elucidate and disseminate his principles succinctly and forcefully. His Five Points of a New Architecture, which form the backbone of his architectural thought of the 1920s, constitute some of the most direct set of ideas in architectural theory, which he successfully demonstrated in his numerous contemporaneous villas of the interwar period.
Le Corbusier's early writings and buildings glorified modernism and modernity as the key to bringing society out of the cataclysm of World War I at the beginning of the 1920s, a time when many others shrank from the embrace of modern life. Indeed, his architecture and faith in technological progress and heavy industry helped create what many architectural historians would later call "the machine age."
Le Corbusier's political and ideological positions remain fraught with complexities and controversy - at times he could be labeled a capitalist, a communist, or a Fascist - and his copious inspirations and voluminous records and archival materials provide critics and scholars with a seemingly endless array of possible interpretations.

Biography

Le Corbusier Photo

Childhood

Charles Édouard-Jeanneret was born in the fall of 1887 in the small industrial town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the section of the Alps called the Jura Mountains, just across the border from France. The city was known for its renowned watchmaking industry. His father was a watch engraver and enameller, and his mother worked as a music teacher. They encouraged their son to study decorative arts in the hope that he would also become an engraver of watchcases. Jeanneret also frequently made trips with his father into the mountains around La-Chaux-de-Fonds, becoming intimately acquainted with nature and the environment.

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Le Corbusier Biography Continues

Influences and Connections

Influences on Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Influenced by Artist
Artists, Friends, Movements
Le Corbusier
Interactive chart with Le Corbusier's main influences, and the people and ideas that the artist influenced in turn.
View Influences Chart

Artists

Leonardo da VinciLeonardo da Vinci
Adolf LoosAdolf Loos
Charles Leplattenier
Auguste Perret
Peter Behrens

Personal Contacts

Amedee OzenfantAmedee Ozenfant
Walter GropiusWalter Gropius
Charlotte Perriand
Pierre Jeanneret
Jean Prouve

Movements

Classical ArtClassical Art
Decorative Arts
CubismCubism
Russian FuturismRussian Futurism
BauhausBauhaus

Influences on Artist
Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Years Worked: 1905 - 1965
Influenced by Artist

Artists

Oscar NiemeyerOscar Niemeyer
Berthold Lubetkin
Alison and Peter SmithsonAlison and Peter Smithson
Michael Graves
Tadao Ando

Personal Contacts

Charlotte Perriand
Pierre Jeanneret
Jean Prouve
Lucio Costa

Movements

Modern ArchitectureModern Architecture
The International StyleThe International Style
PurismPurism
BrutalismBrutalism

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Catarina Flaksman

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Peter Clericuzio

" Artist Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Catarina Flaksman
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Peter Clericuzio
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