They say one cannot separate art from the artist, or perhaps in this case, the artist from the architect. Arguably one of the most criticized architects, Le Corbusier is often portrayed as cold and controlling. Depicting his more dreamy and humorous nature, the Nasjonalmuseet's exhibition titled, “Le Corbusier by the Sea,” draws upon his memories from his summer travels along the coast of southwest France.
Hosted in Villa Stenersen, one of the National Museum's venues, the exhibition showcases Le Corbusier's work as an artist during the period 1926-36. Not only does the exhibition include fifteen of his reproduced paintings alongside a collection of sketches, but also screens two films from Le Corbusier's own footage of his surrounding views.
Like most creative minds, Le Corbusier had a special place to find inspiration. Le Piquey, his treasure trove for ideas, was a place where he simply became Charles-Édouard Jeanneret again, sketching incessantly and freely. Once he arrived back to his Parisian studio, he would rework his drawings into paintings, cementing his thoughts to canvas.
As a co-creator of the Purist style, Le Corbusier's paintings depict his fascination with the geometries of mundane objects to either emphasize or deconstruct typological forms, informing his early architectural studies. The curation of the artwork from his time spent specifically at Le Piquey aims to highlight how often he drew inspiration from nature and the environment around him. Lesser known is the extent to which these influences impacted his architectural style and even choice of materials.
I am drawn to places where people live naturally. Le Piquey is full of life that is healthy, calm and to scale: to a human scale…This is what civilizations destroy, plunging people into artifice and misfortune.
- Le Corbusier in a letter to his mother, 1932
Whether liked or disliked, Le Corbusier still remains a deeply faceted individual in the scheme of his larger public identity. Perhaps he only wanted a simple life by the sea, or perhaps the short-lived escapes from the city were enough, but in either case, Le Piquey served as an integral part in formulating his architectural ideologies.
The exhibition curated by Bruno Hubert, Tim Benton, and Talette Simonsen will run until December 16.
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