Switzerland/France (1887-1965)

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret studied métal engraving in a arts and crafts school at la Chaux-de-Fonds under Charles L’Eplattenier. He worked in 1908 with Josef Hoffman at the Wiener Werkstätte, refusing a permanent Job. In Paris, he was an apprentice in the Perret brother’ architecture office, becoming familiar with reinforced-concrete methods before. In 1910 Le Corbusier joined the staff of Peter Behrens’s office in Berlin, where he became interested in mass-produced furniture and came into contact with Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. In 1918, he returned to Paris and met Amédée Ozenfant, with whom he developed a style of painting called Purism, and wrote the manifesto Après le cubisme, le purisme (1918), followed by La Peinture moderne (1925). Jeanneret used the pseudonym Le Corbusier (from corbusier, a type of bird) as an author from 1920, as an architect from 1922, and as a painter from 1928. His interest in Greek architecture and the machine was discussed in Vers une architecture (1923), à collection of articles from L’Esprit Nouveau: revue International d’esthétique. Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret worked in the architecture office at 35 rue de Sèvres, Paris. 1924-38, Jean Badovici documented their projects in the journal L’Architecture vivante. Le Corbusier’s and Jeanneret’s pavilion L’Esprit nouveau at the 1925 Paris Exhibition, and his white concrete houses of the period, manifested what was later dubbed the International Style of architecture, of which Le Corbusier’s 1919 Villa Savoye at Poissy is a prime example. The 1925 pavilion created a scandal that precipitated Le Corbusier’s and other departure in 1929 from the Société des Artistes Décorateurs to form UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes). Even at the 1937 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne, his “Temps nouveau” pavilion was relegated to Porte Maillot, far from the fair grounds. In 1927, Le Corbusier began to design tubular steel furniture in association with Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand, who, as a student of architecture, joined the Le Corbusier-Jeanneret workshop in 1927. She became responsible for most of the furniture designs. Not interested in originality, the team based the design of their best know metal models on mass-produced wooden furniture, as in the 1928 siège à dossier basculant. In 1930, they designed the scheme for the office of the administrator of the review La semaine à Paris (Robert Mallet-Stevens, architect). Some of the furniture pieces have become icons of the 20th-century design, partly through their availability as reproductions. From the 1930’s, Le Corbusier concentrated on architecture and planning, and his work in the 1950’s made a distinct break with the Formalism of his earlier International Style and turned towards freer expression. His lunch-quoted term « machine for living » is often wrongly interpreted as expressing a cold indifference to the provision of human shelter.