Le CorbusYear

Warsaw, Katowice, Wrocław, Tarnów
Until October 2012

Le Corbusier paints murals in Villa E1027 of Jean Badovici and Eileen Gray, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, circa 1939 © Fondation Le Corbusier

Le Corbusier (1887–1965) has been often dubbed “the pope of modernism”, with both admiration and scorn. He is regarded as the most influential architect of the 20th century – or perhaps even of all time – nevertheless, our knowledge of his work and life is scarce and to a great extent indirect. We know that he was great but we don’t know exactly why. The last exhibition of Le Corbusier in Poland toured several towns in 1966, and his most recent critical monography was published in 1982. None of the 20 books that Le Corbusier wrote or co-edited have been published in Poland in their entirety, except for the samizdat edition of the “Athens Charter”, which is hardly accessible today.

The Le CorbusYear programme has been built around the ideological presence and physical absence of Le Corbusier in Poland. It will give us an opportunity to find his traces in our cities and to embed the work of Polish architects in an international intellectual context, but also to reflect on the viability of the modernist town planning ideals. Now that we have rediscovered modernism and the number of its defendants is steadily growing, the time has come to ask ourselves: is it just nostalgia, a passing fad or a predilection to certain forms that are driving us or, rather, are we truly interested in the world of modernist ideas and ethos? Are we capable of unearthing it from under the debris of the pulled-down buildings, to dust it off and breathe new life into it? Why not begin with the man who enthralled generations of Polish architects – Le Corbusier.