As the leader of the International Style, the Swiss-born, Paris-based architect Le Corbusier had the rare opportunity to build on three continents at a time when airplanes were still a new method of transportation. Because the architect behind the Villa Savoye employed signature elements in widespread locations throughout the world, some say he blanketed the world with one style of architecture. His various projects do share some universal elements, but this one-style-fits-all opinion of Le Corbusier’s work oversimplifies his approach—place indeed affected practice.
MoMA’s new exhibition catalogue, Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes, by guest curator Jean-Louis Cohen and MoMA’s Chief Curator of Architecture and Design, Barry Bergdoll, looks beyond the superficial qualities of Le Corbusier’s buildings and into the place and culture in which they were created. Structured as an atlas, the book offers a unique way to explore the life and work of one of the most important visionaries of our time. As Cohen explains, “the idea of a Corbusian atlas can be understood in its most literal sense, as a mapping of places lived, observed, drawn, designed, and built by Le Corbusier.”
In addition to providing a visual perspective for exploring Le Corbusier’s extensive contributions to architecture, the maps geographically organize essays from over 30 of the foremost scholars of his work. Included with the essays are over 400 vivid illustrations including vintage and contemporary photographs, drawings, plans, watercolors, sketches, and much more.
Through this lens of a “Corbusian atlas,” readers gain a new perspective on Le Corbusier as an architect, interior designer, artist, writer, photographer, city planner, and a man who had dynamic and complex relationships with the physical environments he encountered. According to Bergdoll, Le Corbusier viewed “building as a type of viewing device for the landscape beyond it, a means, therefore, of making the landscape into an object of contemplation.”
The architect himself once said, “a site or a landscape does not exist—except as our eyes see it. The idea therefore is to make it visibly present, choosing the best of the whole or parts of it.”
Download a free sample of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes, available exclusively from the MoMA Stores now through July, and be sure to visit the exhibition, on view through September 23, in the sixth-floor galleries.