Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on
Marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier's death, we are exploring a small section of his impressive architecture oeuvre – a body of work that places him centre stage in the VIP lounge of 20th century architecture.
(Image credit: Courtesy of FLC/DACS)

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier, sits alongside Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe in the reputational VIP lounge of 20th century architecture. (Le Corb is the one with the big round glasses, Lloyd Wright is in the floppy fedora and Mies puffs on a cigar. Icons need their props.) But if Lloyd Wright was the man of the flat prairies, of long horizons and open (mostly domestic) spaces; and Mies, the Bauhausian who bought great glass boxes to meaty, muscly Chicago, redefining corporate architecture in the process; then Corbusier is the arch European modernist and master planner, the man who hung out with Fernand Léger and then launched his own post-cubist artistic movement (tagged 'purism', it never really took off), designed a roomful of iconic furniture – working with Charlotte Perriand and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret – and then plotted high rise living and built a city from scratch at Chandigarh.

Along the way, he met the singer Josephine Baker on a cruise ship and sketched her naked (Baker that is, not Corb) and designed what might be the most beautiful of post-war buildings, the Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. He died on 27 August 1965 at the age of 77. It's a measure of his reputation that the US president Lyndon Johnson paid tribute, declaring 'His influence was universal and his works are invested with a permanent quality possessed by those of very few artists in our history.' Pravda, meanwhile, stated that 'modern architecture has lost its greatest master'.

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

The hugely influential 1920s-built Villa Savoye, pictured here in 1984. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Unité d'habitation in Marseilles, 1947–53. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Corbusier was the arch European modernist and master planner, the man who hung out with Fernand Léger and then launched his own post-cubist artistic movement. Pictured here is one of his many artful sketches. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

US president Lyndon Johnson paid tribute when he died in 1965, declaring that, 'His influence was universal and his works are invested with a permanent quality possessed by those of very few artists in our history.'

(Image credit: Courtesy of Phaidon)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Pictured here is Le Corbusier's final work and the exhibition space for his artistic pieces, the Centre Le Corbusier in Zurich (also known as the Heidi Weber Museum)

(Image credit: press)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

The architect's kitchen conservation, on view at 'Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture' at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2009.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Installation view of 'Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture' at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2009.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Installation view of 'Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture' at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2009

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Installation view of 'Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture' at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2009.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Installation view of 'Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture' at the Barbican Art Gallery, 2009.

(Image credit: Lyndon Douglas)

Modern master: Le Corbusier, 50 years on

Interior angles at the Centre Le Corbusier, Zurich

(Image credit: press)

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