Thursday, July 09, 2009

Chronological Survey of Le Corbusier's 60-year Oeuvre Opens at Martin Gropius Bau


A woman observes a work of art made by Le Corbusier (1887-1965), at the retrospective exhibition that is on view through October 5 in Berlin. Photo: EFE/Rainer

Chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp, 1950-55 © FLC / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2009.

BERLIN.- Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau is presenting the first comprehensive exhibition since 1987 of the wide-ranging work of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965). The architect’s links to Germany and Berlin will also be stressed. There will be a total of about 380 exhibits to be seen in the Martin-Gropius-Bau.

“Le Corbusier – Art and Architecture” provides a chronological survey of his 60 year oeuvre. At the same time, by virtue of being divided into three relatively autonomous areas – “Contexts”, “Privacy and Publicity” and “Built Art” – it highlights leading themes that are important to an understanding of Le Corbusier’s work. These include his interest in the Mediterranean and the Near East, his pursuit of organic forms in the 1930s, and his fascination with new technologies and media. The juxtaposition of these aspects illustrates Le Corbusier’s central concept of a “synthesis of the arts”, which manifests itself in the interplay of architecture, urban planning, painting, design, film, and other disciplines.

Taking account of the latest research and critical scholarship, the exhibition takes an explicitly contemporary look at Le Corbusier, while also serving as an introduction to the work of the architect.

The core of the exhibition is made up of a large number of exhibits from the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris, including original paintings, sculptures, numerous original pieces of furniture, original drawings and plans, first editions of Le Corbusier’s books plus numerous small objects from the architect’s private collection, which he used for purposes of inspiration, orientation and demonstration. Le Corbusier’s most important structures are illustrated using both original and new, specially constructed architectural models, while a number of installations based on historical interiors bring his spatial concepts to life.

Among the most impressive exhibits are the giant mural from Le Corbusier’s Paris office in the Rue de Sèvres (1948) and a walk-in model of the Philips Pavilion (1958), which shows how close this project was to today’s computer-generated architecture. The film material shot by Le Corbusier himself in Arcachon and Rio de Janeiro and the reconstruction of the historical model of the “Plan Voisin” (1925), his radically utopian master plan for Paris, are among the major features of the show.

Le Corbusier’s practice of always working closely with his contemporary artists is shown by such exhibits as original pieces of furniture by Charlotte Perriand and Jean Prouvé and paintings by Fernand Léger and André Bauchant.

Le Corbusier and Berlin
For its Berlin presentation “Le Corbusier – Art and Architecture” will be supplemented to include such exhibits as original plans, sketches, books and films concerning Le Corbusier’s relationship with Germany, especially Berlin.

This connection is shown in three stages: First there is Le Corbusier’s long stay in Germany in 1910/11. In 1910 Le Corbusier received a grant to study the German arts and crafts movement known as the Werkbund. From April 1910 to April 1911 he stayed almost uninterruptedly in Germany, working for six months with Peter Behrens and meeting many leading representatives of the Werkbund. The second phase covers Le Corbusier’s dealings with the Bauhaus and Werkbund movements in the 1920s and his participation in the great Bauhaus exhibition of 1923 in Weimar. In 1927 Le Corbusier built his first two buildings in Germany for the Werkbund exhibition at the Weissenhof estate in Stuttgart. Finally the exhibition shows Le Corbusier’s work in Berlin after the war, such as his Unité d’Habitation (dwelling unit) built near Berlin’s Olympia Stadium in connection with the 1957 International Construction Exhibition in Berlin and his contribution to the Capital Competition for International Ideas in 1957/58.


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