|Le Corbusier at work on Sainte Marie de la Tourette, Eveux-Sur-Arbresle, 1959
Photograph by René Burri
Over the weekend I attended the preview of Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Landscapes at MoMA. As promised, this is a seriously comprehensive exhibition beginning with his early life and work in Switzerland and culminating with the last projects before his death in 1965 on the beach near his beloved cottage in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the French Riviera. I am a huge fan and it was a dream to see all of this work — including sketches, paintings, architectural models, plans and elevations and so on — organized chronologically in one space to get an even better sense of the evolution and process of one of the most important architects and designers of the twentieth century. Most intriguing for me were actually Le Corbusier’s many paintings, so evocative of the modern movement in the 1920s and 30s, and also his religious buildings. The latter because I didn’t know that aspect of his work as well and because I have always been fascinated with modernist-designed places of worship. These structures number three in total — Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut, Sainte Marie de la Tourette and Sainte Pierre de Firminy — all built in France. The last of which, Saint Pierre de Firminy, was just completed in 2006, more than 40 years after it was conceived. The church of Saint Pierre was finished under the direction of José Oubrerie, an architect who worked for Le Corbusier from 1957 to 1965, and who in fact helped in the design of the edifice from its very beginning during those years. Quite remarkable.