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Le Corbusier's early drawings. 1902-1916 - Teatro dell’architettura (Mendrisio)

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he Teatro dell’architettura in Mendrisio presents Le Corbusier's early drawings. 1902-1916: an exhibition that has gathered over 80 originals and unpublished drawings of a young Le Corbusier, in addition to a series of reproductions from the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris.

It is a journey into the the youth of Charles Edouard Jeanneret, alias Le Corbusier, who was one of the greatest and most versatile architects and urban planners, and also a brilliant sculptor and painter. The story begins in 1902, the year he entered the School of Art and Applied Arts in La Chaux-de- Fonds, and ends in 1906 just before his definitive move to France and the opening of his architectural studio in Paris. What immediately becomes clear is how Le Corbusier’s vocation for painting went onto influence his later work.

The exhibition, curated by Danièle Pauly and divided into various sections, focuses on the importance of drawing for Le Corbusier from early on as an instrument of observation (the natural studies made from 1902 to 1905 are a good example), but also for analysis and research. This can be seen from the studies he made in Paris museums or his first architectural sketches made between 1905 and 1907, and even as a means of lyrical expression (visible in his watercolors or gouaches of landscapes and female nudes).
Drawing always remained central to Le Corbusier’s life: from studies made in art school applied to the fields of watchmaking and architecture under the influence of the painter Charles L’Eplattenier, who was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, to his experience in Auguste Perret’s atelier, meetings with the early 20th century European avant-garde architects and his study trips encouraged by his mentor, the painter William Ritter.

Sketches and drawings were tools to serve memory for the architect: his travel sketchbooks include ideas, insights and impressions that would make their way into his works. This was true of his 1907 journey in Italy dedicated to the study of the Middle Ages and the Italian “primitive” school of painting, as well as in his studies of the Notre Dame and drawings of the many museums in Paris, or in travels in Germany (including an apprenticeship in the Berlin atelier of Peter Behrens), before his initiatory journey in the East in 1911.

And like a journey, the exhibition concludes with the return of Le Corbusier in La Chaux-de-Fonds (1912-1916), his hometown, where the master went on to teach, start his architectural work and devote himself to painting and drawing a series of landscapes, portraits, family scenes, female nudes and still lifes. Thus began the second phase of his output and, with it, the creation of the works of purist inspiration that we all know well.

Where: Teatro dell’Architettura, via Turconi 25 Mendrisio, Switzerland
When: September 1, 2020 - January 24, 2021

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