Le Corbusier was born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret on 6 October 1887 in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. At the age of thirteen, he began taking evening classes at École d’art de La Chaux-de-Fonds and was later admitted as a student engraver in 1902. He studied ornamental decoration under Charles L’Eplattenier and from 1905, another decorative course led by architect René Chapallaz. Le Corbusier was told to pursue architecture and would realise his first house, alongside Chapallaz, in 1906 – Villa Fallet in La Chaux-de-Fonds.
From 1907 until 1911, Le Corbusier travelled throughout Europe: beginning in Italy before visiting Vienna, where he met Gustav Klimt; Paris, where he worked at the office of architect Auguste Perret for fourteen months; Berlin, where he spent four months in the office of Peter Behrens alongside Ludwig Mies can der Rohe and Walter Gropius; and the Balkans, Greece and Turkey with this friend, August Klipstein. In 1912, he designed and built a new house for his parents, Villa Jeanneret-Peret in La Chaud-de-Fonds. Le Corbusier would remain in Switzerland during the First World War, teaching architecture in his hometown as well as designing a villa for watchmaker Anatole Schwob in 1916 before moving to Paris.
In 1916, Le Corbusier met Amédée Ozenfant with whom he established a new artistic movement, Purism. Between 1918 and 1922, Le Corbusier focussed on his painting and met Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso and Jacques Lipchitz before setting up an architectural practice with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret. At the Salon d’Automne, Le Corbusier presented his plan for Ville Contemporaine, and in 1925 designed the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion for the 1925 Paris International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts. He would also design and complete Villa La Roche, which is now the Fondation Le Corbusier, in Paris (1923-25). Throughout this period, Le Corbusier wrote a series of polemical articles published in L’Esprit Nouveau, advocating for new concepts of architecture and urban planning, and published his book Vers un architecture (1923) including his Five Points on Architecture. The five points were realised in the Villa Savoye, Poissy (1928-31).
Le Corbusier spent much of the 1930s and 1940s developing, writing and promoting his architectural concepts, travelling internationally. In 1947, he was commissioned to create the first Unité d’Habitation – a self-contained block of flats that offered all services for living – in Marseilles, completed in 1952. He also collaborated with Oscar Niemeyer on the new headquarters of the United Nations, New York. Over the final decades of his life, Le Corbusier realised several projects including: Chandigarh, India (1951-56); National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (1954-59); three more Unités d’Habitation in Berlin, Briey-en Forêt and Firminy (1956-67); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA (1960-63). Le Corbusier died on 27 August 1965, in the French Riviera.
Le Corbusier’s work can be found in the following selected international collections: the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA); Kunstmuseum Basel; the Tate Collection, London.
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