Le Corbusier: Artist Portrait

Le Corbusier

Born 1887. Died 1965.

Works by Le Corbusier at Sotheby's

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Le Corbusier Biography

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier, was born on October 6, 1887, in La Chaux-de-Fonds in the Swiss Jura province of Switzerland, a region known at the time for its exquisite watchmaking industry. Jeanneret’s earliest artistic training was with Charles L’Eplattenier at the École des Arts Décoratifs, where he studied decorative watch-making. L’Eplattenier was a painter and architect who worked largely within the Art Nouveau style, and, later in his career, Jeanneret would describe the older artist as his only teacher. L’Eplattenier’s influence on the young Le Corbusier cannot be overstated, as it was he who suggested that Le Corbusier pursue architecture, and on his directive traveled extensively through Europe and the Mediterranean between 1907 and 1911, where he studied and observed a wide variety of architectural styles. Much of these travels inspired what would inspire later tenets of Le Corbusier’s architectural practice, such as his conception between collective and individual residential space.

After this period of intense travel, Jeanneret eventually settled in Paris, France, where he met the artist Amédée Ozenfant, with whom he would collaborate on a number of significant projects, such as the publication L’Esprit Nouveau, a periodical that, among other things, propagated Purism (a less decorative variant of Cubism). It was during the periodicals production that Jeanneret adopted the moniker Le Corbusier, as both he and Ozenfant (who went by Saugnier) chose pseudonyms for a series of articles they co-wrote. L’Esprit Nouveau ultimately marked not only the beginning of Le Corbusier’s prolific writing and publishing career, but also his transition into architectural practice.

In 1922 Le Corbusier joined his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, in opening an architectural firm, which they would operate together until 1940. In the same year as they opened the studio, Le Corbusier presented two projects at the Salon d’Automne that showed his ideal conception of built environment; although he would not formalize the idea until several years later, these works contained what would later be known as Le Corbusier’s “Five Points of Architecture,” which promoted, among other things, open floor plans and undecorated facades.

Le Corbusier’s career as an architect lasted many decades, with his practice only subsiding during the years of World War II. He designed numerous buildings not only in France, his main country of residence, but in numerous other countries including in the United States, India, Argentinaand Switzerland. Historically, he is considered one of the premier influencers of Modern architecture, and the effect of both his writing on architecture and his designs can still be seen today. Le Corbusier died suddenly in 1965, and he was given a national funeral by the government of France. Three years after his death, the Le Corbusier Foundation was established and dedicated to “the conservation, knowledge, and dissemination of Le Corbusier’s work.”

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