DescriptionLE CORBUSIER (Swiss, 1887-1965)
Washed pastel on paper laid on board
8-1/4 x 12-1/8 inches (20.8 x 30.7 cm)
Signed, dated, and dedicated in pencil lower right: Le Corbusier / 1937 / a Madame Wallace Harrison / avec mon amitie / Le Corbusier / avril 1939
Mrs. Wallace Harrison (gift from the artist);
Spaced: Gallery of Architecture, New York (acquired from the above).
This untitled drawing by Le Corbusier was gifted by the artist to Wallace Harrison's wife Edith Milton, a decade before the two architects' relationship came to an end. While working on the United Nations headquarters in New York, Harrison organized a team of international consultants, one of which was Corbusier who had a vision quite different from Harrison in regards to the three-building complex. Corbusier wanted the committee and meeting building to be a low, extended horizontal form. When Harrison dismissed the idea altogether and instilled a plan for a two-story building instead, Corbusier disaffected himself from the project and Harrison.
Corbusier was more interested in the mechanics and in revealing the functions of design and had a reputation for his devout belief that 'a house is a machine for living.' Accordingly, this drawing is foremost a study - a study of the line, exploring its core capabilities. Here, he presents the purity of the line, discovering its simplest qualities in which he organically forms two entwined figures. Executed in 1937, the work follows a theme that Corbusier frequented in the 1930s, depicting 'femmes a la plage' (women on the beach). By entwining the two women with a single line, their torsos become indistinct, yet the hands, feet, breasts of the one woman, and teeth of the other are all recognizable. As the founding father of Purism, Corbusier performs the act of drawing through the method of automatism, presenting the simplicity of putting pen with paper and thus infusing the familiar within the unfamiliar. Regardless, as the viewer, we are conditioned to fit the pieces together in an attempt to see a singular image. We recognize the specified shapes of appendages and nipples, but we get distracted from the ease of the line. The washed pastels are a unifying characteristic which create explicit shadowing throughout the composition, intensifying the figures that are uniquely less voluminous than Corbusier's other femmes a la plage.
The present owner, Judith York Newman of Spaced: Gallery of Architecture, acquired this work from Edith Milton herself, to whom Corbusier was once a house guest and to whom he inscribes on the work: A Madame Wallace Harrison avec mon amitie, Le Corbusier, Avril 1939 (To Mrs. Wallace Harrison with my friendship, Le Corbusier, April 1939).
Slight paper discoloration throughout; lower right corner is just lightly crimped, and the lower left corner with a faint and tiny crease; a few scattered areas of possible water damage, with some fading to various pigments; foxing is visible in margins of paperboard underneath the mat, with some light surface soiling; otherwise, artwork remains in overall good condition. Paperboard measures 12-6/8 x 17-1/4 inches. Matted and framed under glass. Framed Dimensions 16.125 X 20.25 Inches
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