Le Corbusier said that he preferred drawing to talking, on the grounds that the former is “faster and leaves less room for lies.” And so we silently sketched a “vehement silhouette” of MoMA beside a pair of round eyeglasses and handed it to writer Nancy Lazarus, who knew immediately what to do. Here’s her take on the museum’s highly anticipated Corbu-fest.
Le Corbusier’s urban plan for Rio de Janeiro (1929). Inset, a 2012 photograph of his Villa Savoye (1928–31). © 2013 Artists Rights Society, New York/ADAGP, Paris/FLC. Photo © Richard Pare
So much for Swiss diplomacy and neutrality: Le Corbusier, a prolific artist and architect, was politically active and often provoked and antagonized those closest to him in the art world, according to Jean-Louis Cohen, professor in the history of architecture at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.
Cohen spoke at the press preview for “Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes,” which opens Saturday at the Museum of Modern Art. He organized the exhibition and served as guest curator, working with Barry Bergdoll, MoMA’s chief curator of architecture and design. The comprehensive display of 320 objects draws on MoMA’s own collection and extensive loans from the Paris-based Le Corbusier Foundation, culminating a longstanding but rocky relationship with the artist.
The career of Le Corbusier (a Frenchman born in Switzerland as Charles-Edouard Jenneret) spanned six decades. The scope of his life’s work leaves the public both impressed and overwhelmed: he was involved in 400 architectural projects, completed 75 buildings, and published nearly 40 books. A small group of his buildings is now being considered for inclusion on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites.