Le Corbusier and the Occult

J. K. Birksted, Author MIT Press (MA) $44.95 (405p) ISBN 978-0-262-02648-2
Hidden sources and ambiguous inspirations abound in the work of famous, highly influential architect Le Corbusier, who reinvented himself in his thirties, mythologizing much of his history. This book takes a robust, unblinking look at the blanks in need of filling, covering ""as much about the secret sources of Le Corbusier's architecture-that is, of what he threw away and did not want us to know-as it is about modernist relations to history."" As a child, Le Courbusier (then Charles-Édouard Jeanneret) was immersed in Masonic thought (a big part of social life in his Swiss hometown), which elevates the right angle as a symbol of righteousness and life. Le Corbusier's inspiration by, and celebration of, the right angle is a major theme; he referred to his own Poem of the Right Angle representing ""not only the foundation of my being but also... of my architecture and of my art."" UK scholar Birksted unpacks a wide range of philosophical and aesthetic meanings resonating through Le Courbusier's work. Though it deepens the scholarship considerably, the exhaustive study's meandering narrative makes the material more than a little confusing. Still, the bold connections he makes should hold the interest of art and architecture fans. 177 illus.
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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