LONDON.- The work of Le Corbusier remains highly significant and relevant in today's architectural discourse. Yet during the past two decades, no major museum show has addressed the many aspects that still make Le Corbusier's work such an important point of reference for contemporary architecture and urbanism. To fill this void, the Vitra Design Museum is now joining forces with the Netherlands Architecture Institute and the Royal Institute of British Architects in the production of an international retrospective.
The aim of the exhibition is to present a decidedly contemporary view of Le Corbusier's work by incorporating the results of recent scholarly research, while also providing a comprehensive introduction to the subject for younger generations, who already regard his oeuvre primarily within the context of twentieth-century cultural history.
The exhibition provides an historic survey of Le Corbusier's oeuvre, beginning with the early works in his Swiss hometown of La Chaux-de-Fonds, proceeding to the white, cubic buildings of the 1920s - such as the iconic Villa Savoye (1928-31) - and culminating in the late monumental works of the 1950s and '60s, for which the Chapel of Ronchamp (1950-55) and the buildings for Chandigarh (1952-64) are prominent examples. Yet the exhibition offers an interpretation of Le Corbusier's work that goes far beyond its chronological evolution and prolific range.
Divided into three sections entitled 'Contexts', 'Privacy and Publicity' and 'Built Art', the show also focuses on major themes in his work, such as his ongoing interest in the Mediterranean and the Orient, his shift toward organic forms in the 1930s, as well as his exploration of new technologies and media. The result is an holistic understanding of Le Corbusier's oeuvre, whose central idea of the 'synth èse des arts' led to the typically Corbusian connection between architecture, urban planning, painting, design, film and other disciplines. Furthermore, the exhibition will include artworks by contemporaries such as Charlotte Perriand, Jean Prouvé, Fernand Léger, Georges Braque and others, which helps to contextualise Le Corbusier's work and artistic influence.
The quality of the exhibition is enhanced by a rare selection of artefacts from the Fondation Le Corbusier. It will include 20 original paintings, 8 sculptures, 20 vintage furniture pieces, about 50 books, approximately 80 original drawings and plans, and more than 70 objects from the architect's personal collection.
His most important architectural works are represented by both original and newly built models, while several reconstructed interiors demonstrate Le Corbusier's conception of domestic space. Among the highlights of the exhibition are the monumental mural painting from his own office at Rue de Sèvres in Paris, a large-scale model of the Philips Pavilion (1958) that reflects Le Corbusier's anticipation of today's computer-generated architecture, original film footage shot by the architect in Arcachon and Rio de Janeiro, and a reconstruction of the model of Le Corbusier's utopian master plan for Paris, the Plan Voisin (1925), which established his reputation as one of the most advanced thinkers of the time.
With a rich variety of media, the exhibition illuminates determining factors in the creative process of Le Corbusier's projects by identifying their historical sources and revealing some of their underlying technical, formal and philosophical preoccupations.
Organised by the RIBA Trust, 'Le Corbusier The Art of Architecture' is showing, as part of Liverpool 2008, European Capital of Culture, in the dramatic Crypt of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Curators: Stanislaus von Moos, Arthur Rüegg and Mateo Kries.