The utopian city of Le Corbusier Chandigarh: utopia india Le Yes, Le Corbusier also gave him (and very well) to the brushes

When the 27 of August of 1965, they found the dead body of Le Corbusier on the beach of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, the key architect of the TWENTIETH century he was 78 years old. He was a widower. He dedicated his time to painting, and among the few things he kept in his Cabanon was the copy of don Quixote that he always carried with him, lined with the hair of her beloved schnauzer, Pinceau.

Each time that a biography —Le Corbusier lui-même, Jean Petit (1970), Le Corbusier, Secret, Tim Benton (2013) or even Modern Man, The life of Le Corbusier, Architect of Tomorrow, by Anthony Flint (2014)— has challenged the image of the great architect, his foundation has responded the same: they can consult the letters and all materials. The biography of Jean-Louis Cohen, the Life and Work of Le Corbusier (2015), is a collection of summary of personal data, in its majority, from that correspondence, which, translated now by the editorial Gustavo Gili, neither praises nor complaints to the architect, most influential of the last century: what draws you as a human being, contradictory, unconscionable, and obsessed by build. Its pages paraded the already well-known Le Corbusier anti-semitic, fascist, friend of Russian communism, critical of the same regime and womanizer already discovered many volumes.

So, what does this new translation, in addition to the Spanish version? The synthesis and the facts. It could almost be an autobiography involuntary, because the book is based on phrases extracted from the more than 7,000 letters that the architect sent, mainly to his mother.

For Cohen, Le Corbusier is made with the imperative of Nietzsche’s “become who you are”, trying any version of itself. Therefore, the follow-up to a teacher, and his subsequent questioning, draw out their turns academic. Doubt L Eplattenier —that he discovered his vocation and sent him to travel— when viewed in their tastes “a I don’t know what of sacred and unattainable”. “Of the things that you learn not has taught me anything,” he told his parents. The master: “eight months in Paris they yelled at me: logic, truth, honesty, ago with the dream of the arts in the past”. All in all, his first house —which was commissioned by his parents with a pergola which refers to Pompeii— reveals more the issue of what is seen in the digestion that will illuminate later works, such as the structure of houses Dom-ino (Domus-innovation).

If the biography of Flint began with the swiss architect frolicking with Josephine Baker in a stateroom of the Lutétia and described the stiffness of the sheets, Cohen delves into the quality of a survivor and an opportunist of the architect that is passionate and obsessive, that complaint in other actions that he himself undertakes and which no doubt put at the service of any power to try to transform the architecture. So, between naivety and cynicism, seduction and adventure, Le Corbusier traveled around the world trying to reinvent urban planning. That is why, surely today the blindness that leads them to work for any client, and the submission of it to the margin of some minimum working conditions are part of your heritage, as much as will keep the vegetation in the cities or the vertical city resting on piles that are his Unité d Habitation.

self-Portrait of Le Corbusier in 1917.

When, with 33 years, began to sign as Le Corbusier, he Redwin was horrified to marriage: “A bottomless pit where one can find anything, before bad than good”. In 1930, 43, married model Yvonne Gallis. “It always makes you want to by my friends,” he tells his mother. “Lord and lady separated in two spaces united by a meeting point in which runs Pinceau”, described by Charlotte Perriand and the house which I furnished. He admired her. But you received it with impertinence: “we do not embroider cushions,” he snapped when Perriand applied for a job.

More women: Victoria Ocampo invited him to Buenos Aires. Then, on the steamer Giulio Cesare is linked to Josephine Baker. He would return with her to Europe in the Lutétia and had to draw five times naked. But when Baker stopped appellant suggested that, if you are surfeited dollars, invested in brick. He had projects of maximum interest. So was Le Corbusier, the house was a “machine for dwelling”, but the Parthenon, a “machine shake”.

He wrote to his mother that he was considered the head of the French architecture when they barely managed to build. Tried to convince the company Citroën to invest in dwellings erected on dry. Or Fiat or Peugeot or Olivetti wanted to. He tried to get a Fiat Balilla ensuring that “would be a huge publicity for the company.”

Proposed to raze the centre of Moscow “to heal the city”, but the approach to the communist regime only served to copy. And to lift the building Centrosoyuz. He became a man with resources: as not paid, he sold, at the MoMA, the model of the Palace of the Soviets. As I made the case in New York, told The New York Times that “skyscrapers were not big enough”. It also condemned, in the book of 1937, When the cathedrals were white, the cancer of the car.

Tried to contact with Mussolini through the husband of the architect Lina Bo Bardi. He painted pictures about the fall of Barcelona and was part of the welcome committee for the Spanish intellectuals refugees. But, he allied himself with the Vichy regime and, later, commissioned a biography in the who was introduced to him as “the author of the world that wants to be born”.

To lift the UN building, who advised with Oscar Niemeyer and Sven Markelius, they used many of their ideas. Planned to report, but decided to concentrate on building his first Unité d Habitation.

On his decade of work in India, wrote in the third person: “Corbu across the world, traveling, his raincoat dirty under the arm, a razor, a toothbrush and hair gel for his few hairs. Customers greedy and costrosos. The rich live with a soul committed to the money”. All in all, got up a city, Chandigarh. And so described it to his mother: “it Produces surprise. The surrounding landscape is trapped in the architecture. Adorable. Great. You have not seen something like that from centuries ago”.

Two churches, Ronchamp —“the work is more revolutionary for a long time”—, the monastery of La Tourette and the own cottage where he would live as “a naked man” and next to the die with 78 years, would your achievements end. He summed it up himself: “The happiness of the artist is to overcome, in the end, on his knees, weary, tired”.

The Paris chameleon of Corbu

“Blessed be Paris for being the most arid of deserts. A ground in which to take root because one is alone against all, and no one helps or estimated. Those who pass this test will be poor, thanks to Paris, the magnificently fiery enthusiasm, and perfectly indifferent to the corpses that builds up,” wrote Le Corbusier in 1925. A few years later, when he collaborated with the Vichy regime in 1941, he advised: “Paris should get rid of the inert masses, of those who do not have truly nothing to do in Paris, and whose place it is situated next to the land or industries.”