‘I’m a painter first and foremost’ are the words of one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects in Colin Bisset’s fascinating new novel, ‘Loving Le Corbusier’.
Le Corbusier (1887-1965), born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, was a Swiss-French architect who pioneered the International School and became an architect of world-wide renown.
Le Corbusier was intensely creative. Not only an architect, he was also a lithographer, sculptor, designer, theorist, writer and … painter.
‘He seemed calmer when he was painting and he was cheered when the Tate in London bought one of his pictures.’ Bisset continues.
And here is the painting:
‘Loving Le Corbusier’ is a fascinating and immediately engaging novel written from the point of view of Le Corbusier’s wife, Yvonne Gallis. The novel describes not only what it is like to be the wife of a world famous architect, but also takes us to the glamour of Paris between the wars and to the devastation of France during WW2. To find out more about ‘Loving Le Corbusier‘ click here
This painting was created by Le Corbusier in memory of his beloved wife, ‘Von’, who died the same year.
Bisset’s words made me think of my father – he was an an architect painter too. He had a studio at the top of the house and I was allowed in there to paint with him provided I did not disturb him and washed my brushes afterwards. It was a still, quiet place and I loved it. I think this is why I am a painter today.
I remember vividly living with the ups and downs of being an architect in the Britain of the 1970s. My father’s partnership, Renton Howard Wood Levine, could go from over 200 staff to under 20 during a building recession. And there were the constant trials of trying to build the building he had designed – there were the planners, the engineers and, of course, the needs of the client to contend with.
But above all, it was the intense complication and difficulty of creating a work of art in which people were going to carry on their daily lives. This is what makes architecture the most difficult art form of all.
Is this why architects paint – the simplicity? With painting there is just you, the canvas, the brushes and the colour.
Painting is where architects can create directly, with no one to interfere or influence.
This is one of my father’s paintings.
I like to think Le Corbusier would have approved.