Le Corbusier, remembered: Paris celebrates an icon of modernism with a trio of exhibitions

Le Corbusier, remembered: Paris celebrates an icon of modernism with a trio of exhibitions

Le Corbusier is having a moment in Paris. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret’s death, two Left Bank galleries and the Centre Pompidou across the river celebrate his artistic and architectural achievements in exhibitions small and large. 

Le Corbusier built his name in the post-World War II boom with his social-minded skyscraper housing block designs and polemical urban theory more than he did with his art. The partnership between Galerie Zlotowski and Galerie Eric Mouchet to present ’Le Corbusier: Panorama d’une oeuvre’, a two-part show which opened this week, was born from a shared passion for the modern trailblazer as both an architect and an artist.

Galerie Zlotowski, which specialises in Le Corbusier’s visual artwork, shows a series of the Swiss-born artist’s mixed media collages of pastels, paint, pencil and newspaper until 25 July. Just around the corner Galerie Eric Mouchet has a wider selection of Le Corbusier’s works on display, including his sculptures, until 13 June. Mouchet, who opened his namesake gallery just last October, is also an architect and Le Corbusier expert who occasionally serves as a witness in legal matters concerning his drawings.

It comes as little surprise that the same clean, modular lines and curves of Le Corbusier’s architecture also show up in his visual artwork. The difference here is that they do not describe buildings, but people. The intimate gallery settings offer an up close and personal look at those characters Le Corbusier created in his paintings and drawings. Most notable are the two women who star in his ’Deux Femmes’ series. ’Deux femmes à la terrase Piquey’ (1934) at Galerie Zlotowski shows a woman, with her undulating form and cantilevered hair, sitting nude at a cafe table with a self-pleased smirk next to a blasé companion. She stares squarely ahead, fully clothed in a blue dress. Another snapshot shows the abstract pair on the beach.
Galerie Mouchet displays a number of works from Le Corbusier’s last major painting phase that began in 1951 and lasted until his death. (Le Corbusier drowned in 1965 while swimming in the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, also locale to fellow architect Eileen Gray’s iconic home, E1027, for which he had painted a series of murals in the 1930s.) Many of the works on display feature a bull motif, reminiscent of Picasso’s taurine works. 

If this small taste of Le Corbusier’s works at the galleries leaves you wanting more, the Pompidou’s upcoming retrospective will feature some 300 pieces, with a focus on his work as an architect and his major influence on modern design and urban planning.’Le Corbusier, Mesures de l’homme’ opens on 29 April.

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