Le Corbusier at Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007)

Le Corbusier: Art and Architecture - A Life of Creativity

Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
26 May – 24 September 2007

Press Release text by Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

A Celebration on the 120th Anniversary of Le Corbusier’s Birth Featuring his Architecture and his Art, and Including Full-Scale, Walk-In Reproductions of Three Architectural Spaces

Le Corbusier is without doubt the best-known non-Japanese architect in Japan. Not only did this founding father of modernism leave behind numerous architectural icons, but he was also an artist, working in private to create a vast array of personal creative vistas in paintings, drawings and sculptures. There was a constant interplay between his architecture and his art, and similarities can be seen in their development over his career. By covering all of the various facets of this unique individual’s output, "Le Corbusier: Art and Architecture – A Life of Creativity" seeks to examine Le Corbusier the man, providing an all-encompassing overview of his achievements.

A Life of Creativity
Le Corbusier was born in 1887 in Switzerland, in time to witness first hand the frenzy of scientific discovery and technological invention that marked the turn of the century. However, as the age of mass production dawned, Le Corbusier, like many others of his time, saw in it the seeds of alienation of the individual and the potential for increasingly inhumane urban development. Perhaps his greatest achievement was to integrate the industrial developments of his time into a more human-friendly framework, one that took into consideration human needs and desires. In the process he created an unmistakably modern, yet at the same time more humane architectural aesthetic, one that you could say fused the stark functionality of his architect’s eye with the free-flowing, organic curves of his paintings.

The exhibition begins with paintings and then continues with models, drawings and photographs depicting his architecture and urban planning. This composition mirrors Le Corbusier’s life, which was devoted to architecture and art in equal measure. It is little known that Le Corbusier devoted his mornings to painting; architecture only started in the afternoons when he went to his office. As he explained, "part of every day of my life has been devoted to drawing. I have never stopped drawing and painting, looking wherever I could for the secrets of form. You don’t have to look any further than this for the key to my work and research..."

Full-scale, Walk-in Reproductions — Experience his Atelier and Significant Architectural Spaces Firsthand
One of the highlights of the exhibition is a number of full-scale reproductions of architectural spaces. The show starts with a walk-in model of his atelier in Paris— complete with furniture and other personal trappings. There is also a full-size reproduction of a two-story apartment from his important "Unité" project in Marseilles, and another of "le Petite Cabanon," a small wooden hut he built at Cap Martin in the south of France, his final home. Each is large enough for visitors to walk inside, providing a rare chance to experience Le Corbusier’s creations firsthand and view his furniture, paintings and sculptures within that context. The exhibition is further enhanced by the use of dozens of photographs and videos, some including three-dimensional computer graphic renderings.

The majority of exhibits come from the Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris, and the Centre Pompidou, however many others will come from lenders elsewhere and in Japan. Many of the art works come from the Mori Art Collection, which includes a substantial number of drawings, paintings and tapestries assembled by Mori Art Museum founder Mori Minoru. The exhibition also benefits from the advice of leading Japanese architects such as Maki Fumihiko and Ando Tadao.

The 120th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s birth is sure to keep him in the news worldwide. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to explore the full gamut of his creative endeavor.