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He began his career in the 1920s with buildings in the Nordic Classical style, but was drawn to International Modernism by the end of the decade. Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium (1929-1933) can be counted as a masterwork of the period in the global context.
In the mid-1930s, Aalto broke away from the Modernist group known as CIAM to develop his own vocabulary of form in a more complex direction and he created the free-form approach to design for which his architecture became world famous. The best-known expressions of the free-form approach are the easy chair he designed for Paimio, the ‘Savoy’ vase and the Villa Mairea.
Aalto’s rise to become a master of International Modernism stemmed from his humanitarian approach, which can best be seen in the scale of his buildings and in the way he used materials.