Le Corbusier and the Occult

J. K. Birksted, Author
J. K. Birksted, Author MIT Press (MA) $44.95 (405p) ISBN 978-0-262-02648-2
Reviewed on: 03/30/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
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.
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