Many associate Le Corbusier with the idea of the house as a machine for living – or with radical urban plans involving high-rise housing blocks and efficient traffic systems. He was obsessed with the machine. And yet his fascination with nature had a significant impact on his work, as both an architect and a painter.
Currently on show at the extraordinary modernist home in Oslo, Villa Stenersen, ‘Le Corbusier by the Sea’ focuses on the famed architect’s life between 1926–36. Each summer for a decade, he visited the Bassin d’Arcachon, a bay on the southwest coast of France. It was a place for recreation, far from the urban distractions of Paris.
“I am drawn to places where people live naturally,” he wrote in a letter to his mother in 1932. “Le Piquey is full of life that is healthy, calm and to scale: to a human scale… This is what civilisations destroy, plunging people into artifice and misfortune.”
Le Corbusier tirelessly sketched whatever he found on the beach: boats, shells, cones, driftwood and stones. Later, back home, he abstracted this subject matter in his paintings.
With reproductions of sketches, written notes, photographs and paintings, the exhibition presents a less-known aspect of Le Corbusier as a dreamy and humorous person.