Le Corbusier

Correspondance, lettres à la famille 1926-1946

The first volume of the Correspondance of Le Corbusier had already taken us by surprise when we discovered how distant the author seemed to be from a deus ex machina of modern architecture. It is true he was young then, not yet forty, which entitled him to a certain freedom of speech. Yet, in the twenty years that followed –the object of the present volume (1926-1946)- the intimate Le Corbusier remains touching in his detailed letters to his “dear little mommy”, in which he writes of the death of their dog Pinceau, about the garden “shot” by the below-zero temperatures, about the swims in the Allier river. One has to look at the war period carefully, as Le Corbusier has been accused of anti-Semitism and of having sympathies for Pétain’s government. His settling in Vichy for more than a year, from the end of 1940 to July 1942, did not help! One cannot deny he was attracted by the authoritarian temptation, or at least that he was an opportunist. But it is not easy to make a definite judgment based on quotes taken out of their context… Two years ago the UBS had taken Le Corbusier out of an advertising campaign given certain declarations such as: “Hitler can crown his life with a grand accomplishment, the planning of Europe” (letter dated 31 October 1940). But the previous year, he was the one to ask his family “Would that dreadful Hitler go through Switzerland?” (28 October 1939). This gaping difference is the reflection of the man himself, a protean artist, ambitious, calculating, a man who holds as many gray areas as he sheds light …

• Le Corbusier, Correspondance, lettres à la famille 1926-1946, Infolio publication, 2013, 1008 p., €35.

Le Corbusier - Correspondance, lettres à la famille 1926-1946

Review published in the newsletter #306 - from 6 June 2013 to 12 June 2013

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