April 19, 2014

Le Corbusier : Barcelona & Madrid exhibition

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes 
CaixaForum Barcelona, Through 11 May 2014 
CaixaForum Madrid, June-October 2014

Architect, city planner, painter, interior designer, writer, editor, photographer and amateur film-maker. Le Corbusier was a multidisciplinary artist who amazed the world with his creative power and unconventional ideas. Through 215 objects illustrating the full dimensions of his creative processes, the exhibition Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes explores the many facets of an artist regarded today as a key figure in 20th-century architecture. The result is a truly extraordinary experience, the most complete exhibition devoted to the architect in Spain in the last twenty-five years. This comprehensive retrospective traces Le Corbusier’s life and work over a sixty-year career in which he constantly observed, imagined and created landscapes: architectural landscapes, domestic landscapes and found object landscapes. Organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New York and featuring many pieces loaned by the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris, the exhibition includes not only models, paintings, plans and photographs, but also four recreations of rooms, complete with their original furniture. The show also focuses on Le Corbusier’s links to the city of Barcelona, as well as featuring several panoramic photographs taken by Richard Pare of some of the architect’s most outstanding projects. 

The most comprehensive retrospective that MoMA has ever devoted to the architect, this show was visited by more than 400,000 people from June to September last year. Following this enormous public success, the exhibition is now on view in Spain where it opened, firstly, at CaixaForum Barcelona and subsequently, from June to October 2014, at the centre’s Madrid counterpart. 

Courtesy CaixaForum Barcelona

A key figure in 20th-century architecture, Le Corbusier was a pioneer in efforts to improve the homes of the lower classes, proposing new forms of efficient architecture in densely-populated cities. He was also a multidisciplinary artist, for he also practised painting and photography and successfully fused art with architecture.

Le Corbusier (real name Charles-Edouard Jeanneret) was born in the small industrial town of La Chaux-de-Fonds, in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland.In 1917, he established his studio in Paris, from where he worked practically all over the world and, over a professional career spanning six decades, directly or indirectly changed the face of many cities, from South America to India. He became renowned for his poetic and often provocative interpretations of technologies and values in the new machine age, working on some 400 architectural projects and designing 75 buildings in a dozen countries. He also published nearly 40 books and wrote hundreds of articles, including some of the most influential texts in modern culture.

Le Corbusier’s concept of architecture was deeply rooted in nature and the landscape, from the carefully framed view from an open floor plan and the dialogue between growing cities and their geographic territory to the natural panorama in its broadest sense. As the artist he was, he drew and painted almost daily, capturing in his work the spatial connections between nature and buildings in the Swiss mountains, on the Mediterranean coast, in Italy, in the south of France and on the great plains of northern India. For Le Corbusier, the emerging metropolis was also a landscape, one in which a recently reorganised domestic interior could establish relations with a broader orbit of natural and human forces. 

Courtesy CaixaForum Barcelona

Far from embodying a universal or international architecture, distanced from place, Le Corbusier’s work was rooted in its surroundings, even though the architect sought transformation in order to accommodate new lifestyles in a world characterised by technological change. 

Visitors to this major exhibition will see works ranging from his early years as an artist in the Jura Mountains (Switzerland) to his final days on the Côte d’Azure, passing through Istanbul, Athens, Rome, Paris, Geneva, Moscow, Barcelona, New York and India. All these projects reveal the way in which the architect observed and imagined landscapes throughout his career, using all the artistic media and techniques available to him. The exhibition focuses on four types of landscape: the landscape of found objects; the domestic landscape; the architectural landscape of the modern city; and the landscapes he dreamed for large territories that he was commissioned to plan.

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes is divided into five sections and features several models, as well as paintings, plans, photographs and documents. Moreover, four interiors created by Le Corbusier have been reconstructed and are displayed with their original furniture. These are: the Maison Blanche; a pavilion for the Villa Church in Ville-d’Avray; the unité d’habitation housing unit in Marseilles; and the cabin in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin where Le Corbusier spent the final days of his life. 

The show forms part of the firmly consolidated exhibition programme that ”la Caixa” Foundation devotes to architecture. This programme goes beyond the focus on particular styles and historic periods to provide visitors with an overview that enhances their understanding of the role that architecture plays in the world around us. Particularly outstanding amongst the shows organised so far are those devoted to such great masters as Mies van der Rohe, Andrea Palladio and Richard Rogers, and recent projects like Building the Revolution: Art and Architecture in Russia 1915-1935 and Towers and Skyscrapers: fromBabel to Dubai.

Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes. Organised by: The Museum of Modern Art of New York (MoMA), in cooperation with the Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris. Produced by: ”la Caixa” Foundation. Curated by: Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture, Institute of Fine Arts, University of New York, and Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York. Place: CaixaForum Barcelona (Av. de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8). Dates: from 29 January to 11 May 2014. CaixaForum Madrid. Dates: June to October 2014.