Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes

Institute of Fine Arts - NYU
May 14, 2013 3:03PM

This summer, Professor Jean-Louis Cohen, Sheldon H. Solow Professor in the History of Architecture at the Institute of Fine Arts, will stage an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art on Le Corbusier’s oeuvre as seen through the architect’s approach to landscape.

For the first time in decades, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is presenting a major exhibition on the work of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), cast as an architect, an artist, a city planner, and a writer. Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes draws on MoMA’s own important collections, but also substantially on exclusive loans from the Paris-based Le Corbusier Foundation, the archive set up in the architect’s will. The exhibition will hinge on these manifold skills to consider Le Corbusier’s prolific work seen through the lens of the landscape, understood both as representation and as designed reality, as both a relation with the natural world and a way of reorganizing daily experience.

Le Corbusier has constantly observed and imagined landscapes, using the gamut of artistic techniques he mastered, from early watercolors of Italy, Greece, or Turkey to sketches of India, from photographs he took during his formative journeys to the exquisite architectural models of his large-scale projects. This approach will be presented through multiple media, such as drawings, original models, photographs, sound recordings, and even silent films shot by Le Corbusier himself in the 1920s and 1930s, mostly still unseen. Following a path leading from his youth in the Jura mountains to his death on the shores of the Mediterranean, the exhibition will focus on four types of landscapes, observed or conceived at different scales, and documented in all the genres he practiced during six decades: the landscape of found objects; the domestic landscape; the architectural landscape of the modern city; and the geographies he designed.

From the “typical objects” featured in the Purist still-lifes to the “objects of poetic reaction,”inspiring his paintings from the 1930s through the 1950s, the landscape of found objects will be mainly documented with major paintings. Beginning with the interiors designed for the watch-making bourgeoisie of La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, four reconstructed interiors, featuring original furniture, will convey his concepts for domestic landscapes. The dialectic between the picturesque perception of city form and the grand patterns that determined many of his large building projects will be revealed as the generator of his architectural landscapes. Finally, projects such as the plans for Rio de Janeiro or Algiers, born out of the interpretation of urban geography, and the designs for the new Indian city of Chandigarh, will be displayed to reveal how extended territories were interpreted as open landscapes.

Le Déjeuner près du phare (Lunch Near the Lighthouse), 1929
Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Plan for Rio de Janeiro, 1929
Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Institute of Fine Arts - NYU
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019