The Architectonic Colour: Polychromy in the Purist Architecture of Le Corbusier

The Architectonic Colour: Polychromy in the Purist Architecture of Le Corbusier




From 1918 onward, Le Corbusier, who was not only an architect but also a painter, was engaged in conceiving and generating the idea of Purism, a pursuit he undertook in conjunction with the painter Amédée Ozenfant. Not surprisingly, paintings were their first tangible products in this field. Their reflections on the relationship between form and color led to the determination of the so-called “large gamma”: yellow and red ochres, earthy colors, white, black, ultramarine, and a few mixed colors derived from these. With the term “architectonic color,” Le Corbusier addressed the profound link between this gamma and architecture. This book is an account of a significant aspect of Le Corbusier’s oeuvre. His youthful works had been built in a then-traditional style, making use of local construction method and materials, and bearing the decoration he himself had created. However, with his Purist architecture, whose principles he formulated from 1920 onward, he embarked upon a radically different course. His buildings were constructed in reinforced concrete, finished with a layer of plaster and then completely painted. The colors of this paintwork were derived from the “gamma.” With his ideas on the polychromy of the twenties, Le Corbusier placed himself closer to Paolo Veronese than to Theo van Doesburg. Following a rift with Ozenfant in 1925, Le Corbusier entered a new architectonic path and the system of Purist polychromy gradually vanished from his work. In the 1950s, Le Corbusier gave preference to natural polychromy—the color of the material itself—above painted polychromy. Whereas polychrome painting in Purist architecture had once been an inevitable and total process, after the Second World War it was allocated a modest position as mere ornamentation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789064506710
Publisher: nai010 Publishers
Publication date: 04/30/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 248
Product dimensions: 6.90(w) x 9.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Preface 6

1 Introduction 8

The review of the architectonic polychromy of Le Corbusier 9

Issue 16

2 Disegno and experimental aesthetics 20

Disegno 20

L'Esprit Nouveau 25

Dead painters 26

Living painters 28

Undesirable painters 29

Experimental aesthetics 33

Fechner 34

Lalo 36

Henry 37

Sound box 39

Sensation et énergie 41

Conclusion 42

3 Purism: form, beauty and colour 44

Form 44

Beauty 47

Le Purisme 48

Ozenfant and Jeanneret 52

Gamma 61

Ton local 62

Variant paintings 63

Impressionism 66

Conclusion 69

4 L'Esprit Nouveau and De Stijl 71

L'Esprit Nouveau and architecture 71

De Stijl stuttering 73

Piano 77

Wall 78

Geometry 79

Léger and Ozenfant 82

Conclusion 84

5 Purist architecture and colour 87

Realized projects 87

Recipe 89

Exterior and interior 94

The associative factor in architectonic polychromy 99

Conclusion 103

6 Polychromy and the promenade architecturale 105

Promenade architecturale 105

Appia 108

Maison Guiette 115

Conclusion 120

7 Post-Purist architecture and colour 122

Lyricism 122

La peinture moderne 124

Five points and four compositions 126

Villa Baizeau 132

Maison Loucheur 135

Conclusion 140

8 Polychromy architecturale 142

'Salubra' and 'Polychromy architecturale' 142

Architectonic colour 144

Smooth and sculptured 149

Sentiment 151

Salubra keyboard 1931 153

Pavilion Suisse 1933 157

Conclusion 163

9 L'espace indicible 165

Synthèse des arts 165

Modulor 171

Pavilion Suisse 1957 180

Types couleurs and Salubra 1959 184

Conclusion 188

Appendices 191

I Publication dates of L'Esprit Nouveau 192

II List of pseudonyms of Ozenfant and Jeanneret 193

III List Variant paintings 194

IV Realized projects and references with regard to polychromy 199

V Tex is by Le Corbusier on polychromy 207

Bibliography 240

Index 244

Credits 246

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