July 16, 2015


29 APRIL - 3 AUGUST 2015

29 APRIL - 3 AUGUST 2015
The Centre Pompidou is devoting a completely new retrospective, featuring some three hundred works, to the output of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier.
Not only a visionary architect, urban planner and theorist of modernity, but also a painter and sculptor, Le Corbusier made a profound impression on the 20th century in dramatically changing architecture and the way it is «inhabited». His international career flourished long before globalisation made its appearance.
Adopting a decidedly innovative approach, the Centre Pompidou takes a fresh look at the output of this major figure in modernity through the proportions of the human body, which Le Corbusier considered essential as a universal principle. For the architect, this «measurement of man» defined all aspects of architecture and spatial composition.
Central to a colossal and multi-faceted body of work was Le Corbusier’s conception of an essential, universal measurement: the thinking, seeing «mass production man». After his studies, notably in Germany, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (the future Le Corbusier) was influenced by the psychophysicists and by theories on scientific aesthetics, which held that everything was measurable, including sensations, cognitive reactions and human psychology. This concept of measurement lay behind the work of the urban planner, architect and furniture designer, and imbued the work of the painter.
Mathematical it might be, but this line of research never strayed from the human being, and adapted itself to human gestures, viewpoints and thought. The «housing unit» invented by Le Corbusier was small but practical, because on a human scale, while furniture became flexible, to accommodate the movements of the body. The eye and mind of the «perceptive» viewer created a Purist picture whose interpretation was intended to be subjective. The human body or some of its sensitive components – were subjects for painting: often women’s bodies, but also hands, feet and ears.
In 1943, Le Corbusier created the «Modulor», a system of measurement based on the height of the average man: 183 cm, or 226 cm with the arm raised. Promoted through a book entitled The Modulor: A Harmonious Measure to the Human Scale, Universally Applicable to Architecture and Mechanics, published in 1950, the «Modulor» was presented as a philosophical, mathematical and historical truth, as Le Corbusier’s invention echoed traditional systems.
The new approach taken by this exhibition presents every facet of the artist’s work through some 300 paintings, sculptures, drawings, architectural drawings, models, objects, films, photographs and documents – all illustrating the prolific output of this native of the Swiss Jura, who took French citizenship in 1930, and made Paris his home.
Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of his death, this key exhibition aims to enlighten audiences on the breadth and complexity of Le Corbusier’s work, thinking and humanism.

The Centre Pompidou is devoting a retrospective to the work of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier. Not only a visionary architect, urban planner and theorist of modernity, but also a painter and sculptor, Le Corbusier made a profound impression on the 20th century by dramatically changing architecture and the way it is «inhabited». The Centre Pompidou invites audiences to get a picture of the entire output of this major figure in modernity through the idea of human proportions, since the human body was essential for Le Corbusier as a universal principle defining all aspects of architecture and spatial composition.
The concept of the Modulor (1944), the silhouette of a human body 1.83 m tall, formalised a system of proportion based on the golden section, enabling him to construct a harmony defined according to human morphology. And yet the Modulor – which established itself as a genuine normative system for numerous architects, governing the form of interiors and the proportion of buildings alike – seems to have been interpreted as a metrical instrument, a purely abstract measurement for organising architecture according to a geometrical rationale. The exhibition examines the sources of Le Corbusier’s conception of the human body: a body in motion, which defined his idea of eurythmia (one of his Five Points of Architecture: a «harmonious rhythm» and graceful proportions). He began to explore this principle in the early 1910s under the influence of the school at Hellerau, a garden city near Dresden, where his brother Albert Jeanneret was studying with the composer and music teacher Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. In this seat of artistic experimentation, Dalcroze developed eurythmics, a method of learning and experiencing music and dance through movement based on physical perception and a cognition of space defined by interactions between space, time and energy. These ideas profoundly influenced Le Corbusier.
Le Corbusier studied with the architect Peter Behrens between 1910 and 1911 in Germany, where he met Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. In 1912, he published a study on the Art Deco movement in Germany, in which he subscribed to the principles of the Werkbund (a movement promoting innovation in the applied arts and architecture, founded in 1907) and the garden city movement. This has its origins in the Lebensreform (life reform) movement, involving a search for harmony based on the psychophysical theories of the German philosopher Gustav Fechner and the psychologist Wilhelm Wundt.
Le Corbusier drew on these ideas to conceive a dynamic and an aesthetic of space now governed by rhythm and movement, with the idea of a «seeing» body. These ideas had a decisive influence on his painting and his entire work, through the definition of the «scientific aesthetic».
Based on a chronology structured by the main stages of this new aesthetic concept, the exhibition offers a fresh journey through Le Corbusier’s work. Here the body is «seeing» and «cognitive», and we get a consistent picture of all the thinking that went into his painted, sculpted and architectural output. The modernist Le Corbusier who created Purist architecture is often pitted against the post-war Le Corbusier, the exponent of a concrete Brutalism and more organic forms. But the exhibition shows how his entire approach was in fact totally seamless. It opens with a room devoted to defining the idea of rhythm and eurythmia. It looks back on the influence of Peter Behrens’ regulating lines, the influence of J. L. M. Lauweriks, and Le Corbusier’s travel diary of the Journey in the East he began in 1911. Throughout his life, he drew on these well-stocked notebooks of drawings and notes made during this formative trip. At that time, the architect was theorising about the perceptual and cognitive unity of an architectural object, which he finally symbolised with a cube. This white cube is found in the first Purist drawings, and the picture entitled La Cheminée (1918) – a painting that became the cornerstone of his collaboration with the painter Amédée Ozenfant, with whom he founded the Purism movement and the review entitled L’Esprit nouveau. Their explorations notably took shape in still lifes structured as variations based on regulating lines. In a critical relationship with Cubism, they asserted a psychophysical dimension: the existence of the psychophysical parallelism between mind and body championed by Gustav Fechner. It was in this review that Le Corbusier – still Charles-Edouard Jeanneret – used his pseudonym for the first time.
One section of the exhibition is dedicated to the review and the first villas built as manifestos. With the Pavillon de l’Esprit Nouveau designed for the 1925 International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, Le Corbusier gave shape to a cognitive space simultaneously defining the pictorial space, the «living» space, the harmony of the architectural compositions and the comprehension of the urban sphere. Le Corbusier’s seminal article entitled «Eyes that do not see» defined the new space of modernity: that of a society now full of machines, automobiles, aeroplanes and steamboats, where movement and mobility introduced a new conception of space/ time. The villas (Villa Stein, Villa Savoye, etc.) established themselves as manifestos of this architecture organised for the liberated body, conceived as an open plan filled with light. Throughout the Thirties, Le Corbusier divided each working day between painting and architecture, and carried out systematic research on bodies: women’s bodies distorted and recomposed as new figures, the morphogenesis of bodies deployed in a series of paintings and sketches that culminated in the mural in Badovici’s house in Vézelay (1936), presented to the public for the first time in this exhibition. Visitors can also see all the prototypes of the L.C. furniture series, designed by Le Corbusier after his visit to the Weissenhof Settlement in Stuttgart in 1927. This experimental city was the architectural manifesto of the international modernist movement. Its white, flat-roofed buildings were designed by Behrens, Gropius, Van der Rohe and Le Corbusier.

In the centre of the exhibition, the room devoted to the Modulor presents fifty-odd drawings and a number of objects. Between the exploratory drawings on mathematical formalisation and those describing geometrical progressions, the Modulor seems more like a regulating instrument than an abstract standard.
Le Corbusier’s acoustic period began with the Ozon sketches (1943) featuring an ear, which we find in numerous drawings and paintings (Ubu IV) and inspired a series of sculptures by Joseph Savina. The concept of acoustics is directly linked to the idea of an «indescribable space», a text that Le Corbusier published in a special issue of L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui. It continues with the idea of a psychophysics of space, where the senses of sight, hearing, and touch all resonate together in an area unified by harmonious proportions. This series of paintings and sculptures ends with the mural Le Corbusier created for his studio in Rue de Sèvres.
The «housing unit», on the scale of the human body, was introduced in the blocks and villas Le Corbusier designed after he visited the cells of the Charterhouse of Galluzzo, near Florence. The systematic use of the Modulor to create the «Unité d’habitation» in Marseille defined the principle of a collective residence based on a universalist understanding of the scale and functions required by human beings. Le Corbusier developed this principle for other projects, increasingly including damp-stamped impressions of the Modulor in a number of drawings, some of which are on show in the exhibition.
Le Corbusier was keen to give shape to a shared spiritual space based on an understanding of the «indescribable space». His relationship with Father Couturier gave him an interest in programmes linked to sacred art. The idea of a spiritual community based on physiological constants and shared cultural values defined the unity of conception for these projects. The Philips Pavilion, simultaneously an event and the transfiguration of an extended acoustical space, established itself as a concrete manifesto accessible to a wide audience. Instead of a rational city and the planning of huge urban areas, Le Corbusier substituted a vision of the city constructed around symbolic buildings. He defined this humanist city in On the Four Roads and The Home of Man, published in the reviews L’Homme réel and L’Homme et l’architecture. Chandigarh established itself as a concrete demonstration of this universalist view of the world. In the early Fifties, the Indian authorities asked him to design the new capital of the Punjab. He was in charge of the entire urban planning of the town, and built the first official buildings and a number of private residences. He wanted to raise a monument to peace there as a symbol, with a hand – a part of the body – replacing the dove of peace.
The exhibition ends with Le Corbusier’s most personal and symbolic expression of his thought: Le Cabanon, or little cabin. With this «housing unit» built on a rock by the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, Le Corbusier designed a minimalist living space. The cabin seems like a paradox for an architect who had made a name for himself in outsized urban projects – involving an intensive communication and skilfully orchestrated advertising that ceaselessly disseminated his image – but also in its aspiration to impoverishment. With the cabin, he expressed his desire to live in a minimum, minimal space, based simply on the physiology of the body. Le Corbusier lived there almost naked, and it was just below the cabin that he drowned during one of his daily swims in the Mediterranean, in 1965.

Dimensions: H : 0,53 m x L : 0,53 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Polychromed Wood Mounted on Iron Base
Dimensions: H : 0,54 m x L : 0,31 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Oil on Plywood
Dimensions: H : 3,82 m x L : 3,50 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris



ICONE 1963
Natural Wood, Mahogany
Dimensions: H: 0,53 m x L: 0.35m x L: 0.20 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

OZON II, 1962
Polychromed Wood
Dimensions: H : 0,80 m x L : 0,80 m x l : 0,35 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

UBU 1947
Natual Wood, Alder
Dimensions: H : 0,915 m x L : 0,49 m x l : 0,47 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

UBU IV - 1940 / 1944
Huile Sur Toile
Dimensions: 100 x 80 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris


Encre et Crayon Gras Sur Papier
Dimensions: 141,5 x 96 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Page 145 du Poème de l'angle droit
Lithographie en 7 Couleurs Exécutée Dans les Ateliers
 Mourlot d'après un Collage Original de Le Corbusier
Dimensions : 0,37 m x 0,285 m
Editeur Tériade
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris


’’ LA MAIN OUVERTE ‘’ 1954
Aquarelle et Papier Collé Sur Papier
Dimensions: H : 0,21 m x L : 0,27 m
Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris © FLC/ADAGP



Dimensions: H : 0,53 m x L : 0,53 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Dimensions: H : 0,50 m x L : 0,4 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Structure Métallique. Coussins Amovibles en Cuir
Dimensions: 67 x 97 x 70 cm
Prototype - Dation, 2004
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Encre de Chine et Collage de Papiers Gouachés et Découpés
Dimensions: 70 x 54 cm
Collage Original
Don Crédit immobilier de France, 2003
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

«The Parthenon, the temples of India and the cathedrals were built according to precise measures constituting a code, a coherent system that asserted an essential unity. […] The Egyptians, the Chaldeans, the Greeks and so forth built, and consequently measured. What tools did they use? Everlasting, enduring tools; tools that were precious because they were connected with the human figure […]: cubit (elbow), digit (finger), inch (thumb), foot, span, pace, etc. […]. They were an integral part of the human body, and thus fit to serve as measures for the huts, houses and temples that had to be built. But more than that, they were infinitely rich and subtle because they were part of the mathematics of the human body - graceful, elegant, firm mathematics: the source of the harmony that moves us: beauty.»

Le Modulor, pp. 18-19

Lithography in 6 Colours Executed Mourlot
Workshop After an Original Collage by Le Corbusier
Dimensions: 0,647 m x 0,954 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris


Photo : Olivier Martin-Gambier 2008
© "Conception, Le Corbusier architecte, José Oubrerie assistant (1960-65)
Réalisation, José Oubrerie architecte (1968-2007)

Photo : Olivier Martin-Gambier 2008
© "Conception, Le Corbusier architecte, José Oubrerie assistant (1960-65)
Réalisation, José Oubrerie architecte (1968-2007)


"On the Piazza and outside the usable volume, all public movement facilities have been centrifuged. On the opposite side, all the technical equipment and pipelines have been centrifuged. Each floor is thus completely free and it can be used for all forms of cultural activities – both known and yet to be discovered.
 Renzo Piano, architect, Centre Pompidou  
Designed as an "evolving spatial diagram" by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, the architecture of the Centre Pompidou boasts a series of technical characteristics that make it unique. Its originality comes first from the flexible use of large interior plateaux of 7,500 m2 , each completely free, with an easily modifiable layout. Using steel (15,000 tons) and glass (11,000 m² of glass surface), the builders created a major pioneering building back in the 70s, in a country more used at the time to visions in concrete. The building of the Centre Pompidou, in its use of glass and steel, is also heir to the great iron constructions of the Industrial Age, from Paxton's Crystal Palace, but also futuristic in many ways. A prototype in all respects, it lines up with the architectural utopias of Archigram and Superstudio in the 60s.
The metal frame consists of 14 portal frames supporting 13 transverse members, each spanning 48m and set 12.80m apart. Eight-meter-long, 10-tonne moulded steel members known as "stirrup straps" are fixed to the posts at each level.
 The 45-meter-long beams rest on these stirrup straps, which transfer the loads to the posts and are balanced by tie beams anchored in stay plates. Each storey is 7m high floor to floor. The glass and steel superstructure encloses the large multipurpose spaces, which are designed to be fully modular and adjustable to changing usages.
Colours have been used to decorate the structure, using a "code" defined by the architects:
 - blue for circulating air (air conditioning);
 - yellow for circulating electricity;
 - green for circulating water;
 - red for circulating people (escalators and lifts).
The title of the quarterly program magazine is a reference to this "color code" as a symbol of the Centre Pompidou's multidisciplinary nature.

Natural Wood
Dimensions: H : 0,40 m
Base dimensions: H : 0,10 m x L : 0,10 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Huile Sur Toile
Dimensions: 96 x 130 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

FEMME 1953
Polychromed Wood
Dimensions: H : 1,83 m x L : 0,69 m x l : 0,20 m
Base dimensions: H : 0,53 m x L : 0,43 m x l : 0,09 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: H : 1,46 m x L : 0,89 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris


VILLA SCHWOB 1916 - 1917
Crayon Graphite et Encre de Chine Sur Calque 
Rehaussé de Crayons de Couleurs
Dimensions: 44,2 x 88,2 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Crayons de Couleurs, Encre de Chine et Mine de Plomb Sur Papier
Dimensions: 31 x 40 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

2 AVRIL 1925
 Image © FLC, ADAGP, Paris 2015

Black Ink, Newspaper and Collage on Paper
Dimensions: H : 0,635 m x L : 0,48 m
Collage FLC 100
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris



Papiers Découpés et Encre Brune Sur Papier
Dimensions: 21 x 31 cm
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris

Natural Wood, Walnut
Dimensions: H: 0,30 m x L: 0.20 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris





«Here it stands:  the «Unité d’habitation de grandeur conforme» built according to no regulations, in the face of disastrous regulations. Built for people, on a human scale. Built, too, using robust modern techniques, revealing the modern splendour of bare concrete. And lastly, built as a means of putting today’s sensational resources to the service of a family home, that fundamental unit of society.»  Le Corbusier’s speech to Mr. Claudius-Petit, Minister for Reconstruction and Town Planning, on the occasion of the handing over of Unité d’Habitation de Marseille on 14 October 1952








Huile Sur Toile, 
Dimensions: 0,97 x 1,30 m
 Image © FLC, ADAGP, Paris 2015

Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: H : 0,81 m x L : 1,00 m
Image © Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris





(…) this relation to the mathesis as a general science of order does not signify that knowledge is absorbed into mathematics, or that the latter becomes the foundation for all possible knowledge; on the contrary, in correlation with the quest for a mathesis, we perceive the appearance of a certain number of empirical fields now being formed and defined for the very first time.
Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, New York: Vintage Books, 1994, p.57. ( Orginally published in the United States by Pantheon Books, a division of Random House, in 1971. )
Was Le Corbusier modern? Was he really the embodiment of the architect who accomplished the rationalist project inherited from the Enlightenment through his famous slogan ‘’ a machine for living ‘’ and who initiated a technological and rationalist modernity organized according to a Taylorian vision and propped up by an ideology of pure form? From this perspective Le Corbusier would have contributed to the anesthetization of industrial societies in their final stage, that of the last machine age which takes shape within an impossible synthesis of art, science, and reason. What was Le Corbusier a symptom of? Some people view him as a central figure of an avant-garde architecture that constructed the fiction of an urban context set free by technology, the fiction of a possible emancipation of humankind, imagined in a number of works published by the architect: La Ville radieuse (1935), La Maison des homes (1942), les Trois etablissements humains (1959). Clearly, he is criticizing the excessive process of dispossession that had been imposed by industrialization, commercialization, the multiplication of technological mediations, but he is more explicit about a certain status of space, one of total abstraction, a space that has been given over to a systematic process of geometrization and mathematization. The reduction of the language of architecture to ‘’ Five Points of a New Architecture ‘’ (1927) seems to have been intended to replace the orders of classical architecture. It is about working out the principles of a grammar of construction that could give rise to the ‘’ house type of today ,‘’ an industrialized house of Citrohan type. However, while Le Corbusier was emphasizing the radical nature of his proposition that ‘’ the house is a machine for living, ‘’¹ he was contesting purely rationalist interpretations – ‘’ those who formulate such an extreme rationalism are themselves the least rational ‘’ – in order to state that architecture is ‘’ beyond the machine. ‘’ ² It is worth emphasizing this permanent contradiction in Le Corbusier, between the positivism of a universe of the machine, in which engineers labor to achieve universal mathematization, and a certain anthropormorphism of architecture, between the abstraction of a tabula rasa and the lyricism of an organic rematerialization. Manfredo Tafuri’s approach to this is enlightening: ‘’ Simplification and a desire for synthesis: these instruments are scarcely modern.’’ However, it is with them that Le Corbusier would confront the erasion of the concept of organicité and the explosion of relations that the contemporary metropolis gave rise to.
The Ville radieuse is not a future - oriented proposition but rather an idea floated on an ark built outside of time and space and run aground on the shoals before the island of utopia.³ How to reconcile a geometrization which, after the outlines of a regulatory system had been modeled, attained its acme with the Modular, perceived simply as an instrument of measurement. How to reconcile this geometrization with an organicite that is forcefully expressed in his acoustic period and is made manifest with the construction of the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Haut at Ronchamp (1950 – 1955)? How to link his reiterated calls for a culture of engineering, a normalization of industrial production, with his promotion of emotion, of aesthetic perception, whereby art becomes the vector of a spatial absolute? Le Corbusier: ‘’ There is, I think, no artwork without an elusive depth, without being tom from its point of support, art is the science of space par excellence. ‘’ ⁴ Is it conceivable that there were two Le Corbusiers, two periods, as has been suggested with regard to Nietzsche or Wittgenstein? How can we reconcile the architect with the artist, whose work has never been properly appreciated? In any case, the difficulty can certainly be traced back to le Corbusier himself, since he carefully destroyed sources, traces, connections in order to construct a narrative, which, over and beyond his success, seems to have lost the historical anchorage that gives it unity.  Hence, it is fitting to contrast the patiently constructed fiction of the figure of the architect, working on his multidimensional projects which address man’s universal nature, with another historical reconstruction, another fiction, based on the sources, about his origins, which provide a key to reading the architect’s work and to reuniting the constituent parts of his critical and aesthetic strategy. Beyond his Swiss and then French affiliations lie his German origins, which he strategically concealed for obvious historical reasons, but also in order to construct a personal fiction. As Pierre Vaisse explains, ‘’ Le Corbusier seems to have attributed the influence of Auguste Choisy to himself, to erase his debt to the German theorists. After World War I, Le Corbusier was obliged to erase all memory or reference to what he owed to germany.” ⁵
The discovery of the cultural, social, and political field that was defined by the Lebensreform movement, the formation of a new German science of aesthetics that was open to contemporary design, along with the ongoing research into psychophysics and experimental psychology, resonate in all of Le Corbusier’s texts. Thus, it is possible to reveal another source for the modern Corbusian being, one that is more contextual and concurs with his rationalist and technical approach. In his eyes, the measure of man was never simply metric; it echoes wider debates about empathy, developments in psychophsics and experimental psychology, debates in which Le Corbusier held his own.  ‘’ We want to apply to aesthetics,’’ he wrote, “the same methods of experimental psychology with all the wealth and investigative means that it possesses today; to sum up, we want to work towards constituting an experimental aesthetic. ‘’ ⁶

Thus, the break with the dominant tectonic theories formulated by first Carl G. Botticher and then Gottfried Semper, within the context of an authoritative rationality of construction that defined the periods and styles of architecture, was brought about by the advent of a theory of space that regarded it as an independent reference and made it into a constitutive dimensions of perception. Thus, architecture became the practice of giving a form to space, or, more precisely, a discipline that was developed from the idea of space (Roumgestaltung). The publication of Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur (1886) by Heinrich Wölfflin sanctioned this paradigm change, which exposed a new dimension, not simply for architecture, but for all the visual arts that shared a common ontology. ‘’This is what we retain as fundamental, ‘’ Wölfflin wrote, ‘’ the organization of our own body is the form whereby we conceive the corporel world. ‘’ ⁷ A psychophysical reading of spatial form is indicated at this point. Architecture rediscovered an entire organic dimensions; it involed the body directly. Spatial form was interpreted in terms of movement, as part of a frontal relationship with perception – the measurement of the eye, physical awareness, unified by Stimmung, suppressing the divide between vision, feelings, and mood, a vision that is freed from a strictly optical function, from being reduced to a geometrical schema. Wölfflin proposes an analogy with music with its evocative capacity, on which to base his theory of physical forms, notably the forms developed by man in response to a sensory approach (Formgefuhl). With regard to architecture, he synthesizes the research that was being done by certain Austrian and German art historians with regard to a science of art, which, by reconstructing the historicization of periods in art history in line with ongoing archeological research, had uncovered the principles of an autonomous aesthetic that was open to theories and had broken with the models that had been inherited from post-Kantian idealism. According to Aloïs Riegl, it was a group that included Johann Friedrich Herbart (Psychologie ols Wissenschaft, neu gegründet auf Erfahrung, Metophysik und Mathematik, 1824) and his teacher Robert Zimmerman (Allgemeine Asthetik als Formwissenschaft, 1865) that liberated form from all its mimetic functions and established it quid juris as an aesthetic relationship. Consequently, Riegl asserted that aesthetics could be opened up to the psychophysics of Gustav Fechner and, more directly, Ernst Mach.⁸ the self-portrait that March drew and published in Beitrage zur Analyse der Empfindungen (1886) seems to be an exact counterpoint to Dürer’s famous engraving. The hand that is drawing is caught up in its own spatial dynamic. The lines of perspective, with the Alberti-type window, that constitute this image are only an artifact in the background of this enclosed room, a space that blends with the one that is immediately perceived. By presenting Stimmung as a factor of order and harmony.⁹ Riegl is also making visible a haptic – tactile – dimensions, a capacity to perceive bodies as entities, to give them from (Gestalt), and this as part of an open connectivity between all the senses, since vision, hearing, and touch are structured by the same dynamic energy that gives rise to Gestaltung. While a new generation of historians and theorist of aesthetics such as Adolf von Hildeband and Konrad Fiedler was assimilating psychophysics and setting up the new paradigms of modernity (like Robert Vischer, who, through his book Über das optische Formgefühl (1873), imposed the notion of Einfühlung ¹⁰ ), these philosophers and historians as a group went on to discover in art and aesthetics a way of solving the old Kantian conflict of the faculties.¹¹  Conversely, the influence of this lively aesthetic would go on to have a considerable impact on a new generation of historians and on art critics who were interested in research and creativity. While the names of Wilhelm Wundt, Rudolf Hermannn Lotze, Johannes Volkelt, and Vischer crop up in Wölfflin’s texts – ‘’ Lotze and Vischer have recognized the significance of living with the body ‘’¹²  - his approach to architecture was still linked to the physical identity of buildings, the identity of the representation of physical objects; he developed a theory of apperception (conscious perception) which was close to Hildebrand’s definition in Dos Problem der Form in der bildenden Kunst (1893).¹³
August Schmarsow broke with this excessively analogous concept of architecture and organic form and the stereonomic rigidity of spatial objects: ‘’ Creative design (Gestaltung) is accomplished internally, and hence a feeling of space (Roumgefühl) and the thought of the construction are its principal directors, not a taste for ornament and a feeling for the detail of forms.’’¹⁴  Citing Volkeit, Lotze, and Vischer, he would draw close to Wundt’s more precise analysis of apperceptive processes in order to reflect the importance of form and to prioritize education on space. For Schmarsow the question was the relationship between the figure and the background; for him the essence of architecture lay not in defining its solid masses, but in the empty spaces that they define. A sence of form has a less determining effect than a sense of space. ¹⁵  Architecture and, broadly speaking, all the arts of space were subjected to a complete paradigm change that broke especially with the precepts of transcendental philosophy. Space was no longer presented as a purely a priori perceived form, but was established as one of the relations; it became one of a set of experiences. In so doing, it changed the rules of architectural composition, which now divested itself of the fixed grammar of the orders and the static geometry that had been inherited from multiple readings of Renaissance classics. Space was no longer an abstract universal framework; it was to be found in man’s relationship to space.
As Beatrix Zug has emphasized, ‘’ Schmarsov starts with individual experience, so it follows that the everyday space and the space defined by architecture, and the mathematical concept of space, should, essentially, conform to each other.’’ ¹⁶ Consequently, a new order of rationalization emerged, one that conformed to the variability of spatial emotion; it was framed by another kind of normative order which sought to stabilize invariables by varying them. Geometry and, ultimately, mathematics were thus obliged to submit to norms of perception that were directly derived from physiological rules. By seeking to establish possible objective ways of measuring a mental event, the innumerable experiments conducted by Gustav Fechner, assisted by Carl Stumpf, which aimed to establish the golden ratio as a harmonic constant, would seek to validate the laws that define the comparative magnitudes of a physical stimulus and a sensation with the same rigor as the laws of variability that Carl Friedrich Gauss had observed. Fechner based his ideas on a reinterpretation of Neue Lehre von den Proportion des menschlichen Körpers (1854), in which Adolf Zeising sought to use the golden ratio as a basis for establishing a principle of universal geometry to organize beauty and the entire corpus of forms, both natural and man made. After dividing the human body into four parts, he subdivided all the body parts in line with Fibonacci’s geometric sequence, in order to demonstrate the harmony of the proportions of these subdivisions, in accordance with the golden ratio. Basing his ideas on ‘’ constants ‘’ of proportion in the history of architecture and referring notably to the Parthenon, Zeising envisaged the universal application of the golden ratio, starting from the perception of beauty as its sole criterion.” Between one feeling and another, ‘’ he wrote, “ one finds a considerable difference and one ask which of them is correct. However, the answer emerges in the truth of a relationship of proportions which cannot be found in an abstraction that is devoid of reason. “ ¹⁷ This text of Zeising’s is among the sources that were used by Le Corbusier when he was designing the Modulor. However, it cannot be detached from the whole context of German aesthetics, which saw Gustaw Fechner shift the question about proportions in the direction of a psychophysiological approach. As Hermann Kalkofen explains, “ If  Zeising has mainly contributed to giving the golden ratio an authentic critical and historical status, Fechner, who saw aesthetics purely as a theoretical exploitation of philosophy in line with a few artistic insights, preferred experimental facts over these demonstrations of principle.” ¹⁸

Le Corbusier’s engagement with the German cultural context can not be reduced to a succession of encounters that supposedly led to his writing two texts, Le Construction des villes (1910) and Etude sur le movement d’Art decorative en Allemagne (1912), the first French language analysis of the Werkbund movement. We need to recompose the theoretical and critical contributions that he gamered in the course of various journeys: Vienna, Nuremberg, and Munich in 1908; then two months in Munich again, the meeting with Theodor Fischer, the friendship with William Ritter; then his trip to Berlin, where he stayed with Peter Behrens for five months in a vibrant studio where the young Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius were working; his crucial stay in Hellerau, where his brother, Albert Jeanneret, was living and studying eurhythmics with Emile Jaques-Dalcroze and where he got to know Heinrich Tessenow as well as the directors of the garden city of Hellerau, Karl Ernst Osthaus, Karl Schmidt, and, especially, Wolf Dohrn. His stay with Peter Behrens, who was fully engaged in the transition from the demise of Art Nouveau to the advent of Modernism, was undoubtedly very stimulating, not only because it formalized an architectural language, but in particular because it provided a theoretical and critical platform that was entirely open to the most recent research in the philosophy of aesthetics. The influence of first Wölfflin and then Schmarsov is reflected in Behrens’ research on the mass and corporality of buildings – research on the formal unity of compositions that was determined entirely from a psyhophysical point of view and organized in accordance with regulating lines. August Thiersch’s reflections on systems of proportions would constitute a working basis for many architects, among them Theodor Fischer, Hermann Muthesius, Heinrich Tessenow, and, of course, Peter Behrens, which simplified the process of architectural composition. Thiersch opposed all strictly geometrical and rationalist readings and developed a theory of proportions whereby the repetition of the same proportion supposedly creates a visual analogy between the parts, on the one hand, and between the parts and the whole, on the other hand. Based on the equilibrium between psyche and physiology, this mathematical harmony, which drew its inspiration from Fechner, advocated a psychological approach to proportions whereby architecture is understood in an organic manner. August Thiersch: ‘’ The building in its totality can be defined as an organism: the whole grows, starting from a type of form, and develops in numerous variations. The relationship between the parts is simple, and the more frequently they are repeated, the more easily the eye will follow the line and the more easily the internal intellectual image will be constructed. “ ¹⁹ This research on proportions, together with the regulating lines that he thught up with the architect Johannes L. M. Lauweriks (recruited in 1903 to the Kunsgewerbeschule in Düsseldorf) enabled Peter Behrens, in the wake of Thiersch, to conceive diagrams that applied to his ongoing projects. Lauweriks was an associate of Karel P. C. De Bazel in the Netherlands; he had already formalized several projects, following a theosophical logic, with the help of regulating lines, basing his ideas on the work of the mathematician Jan Hessel De Groot, who encapsulated an internal order of natural forms that related to the rhythmical configurations of lines. ²⁰ While Behrens was planning to publish a book on proportion with Lauweriks, many of his motifs can also be found on the facades of the pavilion of the Northwestern German Art Exhibition in Oldenburg (1905) and the crematorium in Hagen-Oelstern (1906 – 1907). In this respect, Suzanne Frank recalls that “ the influence of the Dutch school of proportion on Peter Behrens needs to be mentioned. Behrens’ use of grids was analyzed by Fritz Hoeber in 1913, when he was looking into the origin of Behrens’ designs for the pavilions at Oldenburg in 1905.’’ ²¹ In any case, Hoeber has emphasized else where that these geometrical lines did not simply have an architectural function. Citing Wölfflin, he related the corporeality of the building – “ a system resolutely executed in parallel diagonals which determine the interiors and the exteriors of the body of the construction, as much as its facades and apertures ‘’ ²² – and the effect produced by its perception. From within the Behrens office Le Corbusier could not have missed the preparatory work for a monograph the effect produced by its perception. From within the Behrens office Le Corbusier could not have missed the preparatory work for a monograph on the architect by Hoeber, who had published a thesis in 1906 on systems of proportions. ²³ Hoeber went beyond the model that Thiersch had defined; his analysis of proportions was closely related to psychophysics and he proposed a rereading of the history of architecture in terms of the aesthetic schemas that Stumpf, Wundt, Wölfflin, and Schmarsow had developed. According to Stanford Anderson, ‘’ Behrens came to be indirectly influenced by Schmarsow’s theme of ‘ painterly, optical ‘ perception, holism, and endemic cultural energy, and Schmarsow’s acceptance of generally depreciated styles (…) For Behrens this meant an acceptance of the spirit of the times, which he perceived to involve  ‘ an absolute clarification of spatial form to mathematical precision. ‘’ ²⁴ An architecture that creates space; that is subjected, unlike tectonics, to a form that reorders ‘ the contrasts between horizontals and verticals, ‘’ ²⁵ as Wölfflin had noted; that is linked to a cognitive dimension of vision; that respects the rules of human organization (symmetry, proportionality, rhythm): taken together these principles would constitute the core of Le Corbusier’s conceptual approach. In “ The New Spirit in Architecture “ he would recompose a psychophysiological history of architecture. In it, he describes ……………………….. page 8 …..: “ You are caught, you have lost your sense of a common scale. You are subjected to a sensorial rhythm ( light and volume ) and to skillful measurements ‘’ ²⁶ He developed his argument in Toward on Architecture, published in 1923: “ My eyes are looking at something that will enunciate a thought. A thought that will arise without words or sounds, and uniquely through prisms that are related to each other. (…) They are a mathematical creation of your spirit; they are the language of architecture. “ ²⁷ Le Corbusier had thus found an area of aesthetics that no longer applied solely to the history of art and which came to the fore as the instrument of a creative dynamism that favored the idea that gave birth to it. His intuitions certainly benefited from his encounter with the architect Theodor Fischer, who went on to introduce him to the very active circle of reformist architects. This enabled him to be present at the third assembly of the Werkbund in Berlin, in June of 1910. On this occasion, he visited two exhibitions ‘’ of great interest, ‘’ the Stodtebou – Ausstellung and the Ton-Kalk Zement-Ausstellung, which illustrate the attraction that novel forms of modernity held for him. Indeed, Le Corbusier discovered the extent of the German reform of life movement inspired by Nietzsche’s ideas and based on the political, industrial, trade, and artistic elites’ feeling that industrial progress was suspect and who therefore were all keen to promote a reformed society, a return to nature, to the body, and to the values inherent in vernacular cultures. After Monte Verita, the famous free community of artists established at Ascona, the garden city model presented by Ebenezer Howard in his book Tomorrow: A Peaceful Poth to Real Reform (1898) met with an enthusiastic response in Germany, mediated by Muthesius, who had imported the English Arts and Crafts movement by publishing Dos Englische Hous (1904). Around this time, the industrialist Karl Schmidt wanted to relocate his workshops ( Dresdner Werkstatten fur Handwerkskunst ) out of the city and to create a “ planned community. ” With Richard Riemerschmid and Heinrich Tessenow, Muthesius – who Le Corbusier had met – was involved in the creation of this new garden city, composed of 1200 worker dwellings. The garden city of Hellerau became a laboratory of Lebens reform under the aegis of Wolf Dohrn,  who served both as first secretary and, as Le Corbusier would write, the “ actual manager “ of the Werkbund, and whose offices were located in Hellerau. For Le Corbusier, Dohrn was an important individual, a disciple of the social reformer Friedrich Naumann, and also an academic who co-wrote his thesis ²⁸ with Theodor Lipps, a theorist of empathy in - Vischer’s sense – who had just published Asthetik. Psychologie des Schonen und der Kunst (1903 – 1906). In fact, it was Dohrn who led the intellectual side of the Hellerau project, the organic city that linked the notion of rhythm derived from theories of psychological aesthetics with social reflections on human rhythms. This unitary aspect of rhythm emphasized by Wilhelm Dilthey was one of the promising subjects of experimental psychology that Wilhelm Wundt and his supporters ( Ernst Meumann, Kurt Koffka, Theodor Lipps ) were pursuing; ²⁹ it would be taken up again by the Lebensreform movement. Furthermore, Dohrn’s entire project was given a boost by a speech that Muthesius made at a conference in February 1908: ‘’ In the beginning was rhythm. (…) Rhythm characterizes all human activity, it is the law of every expression of our being. ‘’ ³⁰ Dohrn conferred a more political dimension to his vision by referring to a book by Karl Bucher, Arbeit und Rhythmus (1897), which rejected, contrary to Taylorian ideas about work, the separation of the working body from the body in a state of leisure. He wrote about this in Der Rhythmus, the journal published at Hellerau: “ Bucher has demonstrated that, for primitive humanity, all work assumed a rhythmic form and thus there was only one single type of human activity, in which work, play, and art formed a unity.” ³¹ Dohrn went on to approach Emile Jaques-Dalcroze, musician and inventor of a method of musical education based on rhythm, ³² and persuaded him to leave Switzerland to set up his school of rhythm in Hellerau. He got him to sign a contract for ten years, to establish the future Bildungsanstalt Jaques-Dalcroze, a community center dedicated to dramatic performance and arranged around a school of rhythmic gymnastics. Jaques-Dalcroze brought in Adolphe Appia, whose productions were free of all ornamentation and featured a clear space that corresponded fully with the concept of Raumgestaltung, in which the actors conveyed the idea of a graduated rhythm using only their bodies as they appeared on stage. In October 1910, Le Corbusier’s brother, Albert Jeanneret, moved to Hellerau to attend Jaques-Dalcroze’s course. He hoped, upon finishing his studies, to develop his own school of rhythm in line with the psychopysics of space; ‘’ It is by studying corporeal movement that one must start, ‘’ he wrote, ‘’ independently of all deliberate expression; it is on studying the interaction of values, relations, combinations, in a word, of abstraction, the artist’s fundamental feelings, that one must concentrate.’’ ³³ During his two visits to Hellerau in 1910, Le Corbusier noted that the measurements of the body, as defined by Jaques – Dalcroze in accordance with the elementary positions of movement and rest, corresponded with what Adolphe Appia would call “ rhythmical spaces “ in his drawings (1909 – 1910). This involves thinking about space in terms of elementary metrical forms (horizontal, vertical), which mutate through the play of light: “ A horizontal gives rise to a primary sensation in all human beings (…). There are some physical subjective facts which are the way they are, because the human organism is the way it is (…). Rhythm is the imperative guideline of the eye that obliges it to move about, which results in visual sensations. The invention of rhythm in each case is one of the decisive moments of the work, rhythm is tied to the very source of its inspiration.’’ ³⁴

If his meeting with Wolf Dohrn supplied the material for his Etude sur le movement d’Art decorative en Allemogne (1912), that was because Le Corbusier discovered that the precepts the Werkbund had established with regard to a convergence of art and industry were being applied in Hellerau. During the Werkbund conference Theodor Fischer asked; “ Is it the imagination of the artist which creates the form for which he then seeks the appropriate materials or technology? Or do the technological inventions themselves constitute the elements which allow the artist to give free rein to his imagination with regard to how he plays with his materials? He finds an answer in the systematic use of concrete, which he discovered in 1908 – 1909 with Auguste Perret and then at the Ton-Kolk-Zement exhibition in 1910. Fischer concluded the conference: “ It is only it when architects started using concrete as an art form that it became interesting (…)³⁵ Dohrn had planned the advent of a community that was to be constructed on the basis of a psycho-cognitive concept of the body: concomitantly, he developed a system of social organization, and, by extention, an urbanization project and an architectural aesthetic that would lead to commissioning Tessenow to build the Bildungsanstalt Jaques-Dalcroze. The footprint of this aesthetic and theoretical matrix can be found throughout Le Corbusier’s work. However, he was already imagining yet another level of coherence in which the materials offered a greater flexibility with regard to defining form. It would allow a space to be designed that would be open to the body’s full potential, in conformity with the ‘’ invariants of rhythm, ‘’ to borrow Jaques-Dalcroze’s terminology, and freed of all ornamentation, and all stylistic expression. Following the debates about materials and style at the Werkbund, Muthesius published his polemic work Stilarchitektur und baukunst (1902). In it, the author denied that style can express an epoch and argued in favor of the notion of a type, a standard that emerges through the archetypes which constitute each historical period.³⁶ For Le Corbusier, these invariants were dependent on the interaction of cognition, the dynamism of the body, and artistic form, close to the notion of Formgefuhl that Wolfflin had proposed or Alois Riegl’s Kunstwollen, the desire to regulate relations between people and the objects they perceive through their senses. For Le Corbusier, types have a universal cognitive value and respond to physiological universals, even if they demonstrate the technological context, the cultural values that are inherent in each period. ‘’ Standard is a necessity, ‘’ Le Corbusier wrote. “ The standard is established on a secure basis, not in an arbitrary way, but with the security of motivated things, and a logic that is verified by experimentation. All people have the same organism, the same functions. All people have the same needs. The social contract that evolves through the ages determines the standard classes, functions, and needs that have produced standard objects of use. ‘’ ³⁸ This juxtaposition, in L’Esprit nouveau, of photos of the Parthenon with the racing car Delage Grand Sport of 1921 is a striking demonstration of the variability of the cognitive invariant. Starting with Hellerau, it was after he had watched a performance of Orpheus and Eurydice by Christoph Willibald Gluck, produced by Jaques –Dalcroze, that Le Corbusier set off on his Voyage d’Orient. This became a process for testing his concept of an archetype in the history of cultures, by describing numerous geometrical ornaments (1911). Le Corbusier noted a constant recurrence of motifs and rhythms, following Riegl (Stillfrogen, Grundlegungen zu einer Geschichte der Ornamentik, 1893) and Eugene Grasset’s geometrizations . ³⁹ He studied the rhythm of the columns of the Parthenon, which he contrasted with the way its mass is apprehended ( Vue de l’Acropole d’ Athenes, 1911; see fig. 7, p. 18 ), touching on the painterly and haptic notions that were so dear to Wolfflin. This symbolization of the cube – a purely cognitive object, a play of horizontals and verticals – creates an impossible equilibrium between the optical and haptic faculties, a moment when spatial awareness assumes form. If the astonishing square screen on the façade of the Villa Schwob (1916) was derived from the front of the Villa Lante (Esquisse, 1911), it anticipated the multiple depictions of cubes that related to La Cheminee (1918: see fig. 1, p. 46) and marked the beginning of Le Corbusier’s Purism. His first still lifes play with illusions of planes and depths by rejecting all perspective constructs. The same applies to Le Bol rouge
( 1919; see fig. 3, p. 46 ), in which the volumetric of the cube and the rolled sheet of paper are reduced to the strict horizontality of the baseline. Le Corbusier muddles the contours, the lines that make out his planes. He suppresses the visual density of the objects, which are also singled out by axonometrics of their own within a completely discontinuous composition, and he gathers them in the unity of a pictorial plane that is organized by a regulating line. The similarity of his compositions, the presence of similar types of objects ( bottles, guitars, plates, friezes ), of ‘’ primary elements ‘’  that arouse identical and established sensations serve to accentuate our awareness of variation ( Nature morte a la pile d’assiettes, 1920; see fig. 2, p. 50 ). For Amedee Ozenfant and Charles – Edouard Jeanneret ( Le Corbusier ), ‘’ Purism is ekspressed, therefore, by equivalent plastic forms which come from a carefully thought-out choice of elements, whose physiological and spiritual properties are known. These elements are composed of objects which have sensory properties and are matched by rules which have specific effects. ⁴⁰ His manifesto Apres le Cubisme (1918) identified the danger of a ‘’ tendency to crystallize, ‘’ a commoditization, a collection of opinions, as opposed to a real cubism in which ‘’ there is something organic that proceeds from the interior to the exterior. ‘’ ⁴¹ 

It is according to the rhythm of these variations, according to a psychological and physiological range of tonalities ( visual and acoustic, with reference to the findings in Tonpsychologie (1883) by Carl Stumpf) that Purist “plastic” form is constructed. ⁴² How not to think, when faced with the contours of Purist forms, of Edgar Rubin’s vase (1915; see fig. 2, p. 17), which illustrated the notion of ‘’ qualities of form, ‘’ anticipating Christian von Ehrenfels’ Gestolt theory: ‘’ spatial Gestalten, not just of sight, but also of touch, joined to what is called muscular sensations ( Bewegungsempfindungen), turn out to be qualities of form. ‘’ ⁴³ In ‘’ Formation de L’optique moderne ‘’ Le Corbusier questions this dichotomy between the constants of these laws of cognition and the accelerated mutation of contexts of perception, due to our technological resources which impose a generalized kinetic view of things, which in turn gives rise to a generalized kinetic view of things, which I turn gives rise to a new spatial order for architecture and urbanism: ‘’ Sensation, as a straightforward phenomenon, is universal. However, it must be admitted that modifications to the external context of our existence have reacted profoundly, not to the fundamental properties of our vision, but to the intensity and functional speed of our sight, its penetration, the extention of its capacity to register, and its tolerance of sights that were previously unknown. ‘’ ⁴⁴
Published in L’Esprit nouveau, ‘’ des yeux qui ne voient pas ‘’ ( Eyes That Do Not See ) is the overall title for three articles by Le Corbusier, with the following subtitles ‘’ Les paquebots ‘’ (ocean liners ), ‘’ Les avions ‘’ (airplanes), and “Les autos “ (cars) (see figs 3, 4, and 5, p.17). in these, the author describes the universalization of machines and the culture of engineering, as well as the loss of notions of joining and founding, in favor of a society that is obsessed with mobility and speed, thereby upsetting the parameters of space and time that pertain to vernacular cultures. Republished in Vers une Architecture (1923), this manifesto by Le Corbusier has been distributed around the world, and these three articles constitute the theoretical basis for a mathematical formalization of the psychophysiology of the Corbusian space: ‘’ Our eyes are made to see forms under light. Primary forms are beautiful forms because they are read clearly. The architects of today nolonger achieve simple forms. Using calculations, engines apply geometrical forms that satisfy our eyes by their geometry and our spirit by their mathematics: their works come close to great art ‘’ ⁴⁵ The moment had come for Le Corbusier to declare his sources, to reveal the critical foundations of his theory of aesthetics, by joining a group of authors who were associated with the German psychophsical movement. Among them we find, notably, Victor Basch, who attempted, in his thesis on Kant’s aesthetics, to introduce a way of rationalizing what is felt: sensation, feelings, emotions. Leaning on texts by Gustav Fechner, Wilhelm Wundt, Karl Gross, and Friedrich Theodor Vischer, Basch challenged Kant’s sublime mathematics: ‘’ Kant is wrong to insist on the absolute greatness of sublime mathematics; relative greatness is enough. ‘’ ⁴⁶ In his article, titled ‘’ L’esthetique nouvelle etla science de l’art, ‘’ the philosopher sets the tone. He cites Fechner, Wundt, Vischer, and others: ‘’ We do not see lines and forms, we create them by combining visual sensations with tactile sensations, motor sensations, and muscular sensations. 
(…) Thus, modern aesthetics, after the study of immediate sensations, involves the study of form and sensations. ‘’ ⁴⁷ L’Esprit nouveau then approached other protagonist in academic aesthetics, such as Charles Lolo, who wrote a thesis on Fechner that complemented his work, ⁴⁸ and Charles Henry, who published ‘’ La Lumiere, la couleur, la forme, ‘’ ⁴⁹ a text in which, after presenting his ‘’ aesthetic relation ‘’ and his ‘’ chromatic circle, ‘’ he sought to base aesthetics on the objective findings of a physiology of sensation. Although no German author had contributed to the journal, the participation of Basch and Lolo at the Kongress fur Asthetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft (Congress for aesthetics and science of art ) in Berlin in 1913 ⁵⁰ - a congress at which Behrens presented his project for the Allgemeine Elektrizitats – Gesellschaft (AEG ) – supports the idea of a permanent bond, albeit one that was kept quiet, between Le Corbusier and Germany. Henry’s point of view was more radical; it went beyond the positions adopted by Basch, who quickly distanced himself from the journal and from Lalo, whose collaborative work was taking a more literary turn. Henry was in fact advocating a psycho-mathematical aesthetic with no concessions, in which the optical distance ended by disappearing, to give way to a mental impulse: ‘’ to visualize and synthesize this invisible entity as a visual trick that includes the most artificial painted image, which can only be cosa mentale ‘’ ⁵¹ This psycho-cognitive approach to space worried Le Corbusier as he read about it, because it involved abandoning the inherited neo-Kantian geometrical models, the geometry of perspective that underpins the rules by which we identify the visible world, the body, objects, and a network of connections, in which formal and spatial similarities between Palladio and Le Corbusier could be found – thereby giving a comfortable historical continuity to geometrical calculations. If recent research has reconstructed Le Corbusier’s position with regard to these contested academic aesthetics,⁵² his links with German aesthetics are promising; they open up the possibility of rereading the architect’s entire work. The eyes that Le Corbusier drew so often define not a point of view, but the scale of a geometricization of perception, which is that of a cognitive space: ‘’ Operating the system of measures will produce a sensation of organic unity (…) and create a state of unitary aggregation which can be qualified as textural.’’ ⁵³ Le Corbusier’s fascination with generic box spaces, from the cell in the Charterhouse of Ema to the Unité d’habitation (that of his Immeuble – Villas, his L’Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, his ‘’ bottle crate ’’relate to the cognitive domain – one thinks of Ernst Mach – in the same way as his office in rue de Sèvres, a closed box, over which the ear of his Ozon, opus I sculpture presided (1947; see fig. 2. p.189). After the war he started working on a series of acoustic paintings which confirmed his equivalence scales for optical, haptic, and acoustic values in accordance with modularities which went beyond traditional rational geometrics and which asserted that there was nothing extraneous about the body with regard to space. The form of the space required an incorporation, an incarnation in the physical and cognitive sense, a corporalité as Le Corbusier puts it,⁵⁴ a body for an ‘’ ineffable space, ‘’ which the architect materialized in the discrete shapeless masses that are found in the La Tourette convent, at Rezé-lès-Nantes, and Saint-Dié. His obsession with bodies, the morphogenesis of bodies and objects, is revealed in Le Corbusier’s paintings ⁵⁵ and also in his multiple human figures, his Modulors, which were pressed into wet cement and which appear in many of his drawings like observers of his intentions with regard to space. The eye is generic; it creates the concordance of dimensions – ‘’sensory mathemathics’’; ⁵⁶ it endows the actual space with its character and makes it resound. ‘’ The key to an aesthetic feeling, ‘’ Le Corbusier claimed, ‘’ is a function of space. (….) The action of the work (architecture, statue, or painting) on its surroundings. (…) A phenomenon of concordance presents, as precisely as mathematics, a true manifestation of plastic acoustics.’’ ⁵⁷

‘’ I here declare, for every eventuality, that I leave everything that I possess to an administrative entity, the “Fondation Le Corbusier”, or any other meaningful form, which shall become a spiritual entity, that is, a continuation of the endeavour pursued throughout a lifetime. ‘’
Le Corbusier
Note dated 13 January 1960
While still only in his infancy as an architect and bulding artist, Charles-Edouard Jeanneret was already at an early age showing a will to achieve ambitious aims and a desire to leave behind him significant traces of his endeavour that would outlast his earthly existence. “Let life be something with a goal and not merely an arrow speeding toward death” he wrote to his parents in 1910.
Having become Le Corbusier, without direct heirs and driven by the fear that his carefully conserved archives and works be scattered after his death, he spent the last fifteen years of his life conceiving and implementing, down to its smallest details, the project of a Foundation that would bear his name.
Already in 1949, he had written, in a letter addressed to his friend Jean-Jacques Duval, for whom he built the Duval factory in Saint-Dié:
‘’ One can conk out at any time of life. I’ve been talking about it to my brother who is here on a visit. With my wife’s agreement, I have arranged to leave what I own to the poor.
Now, what I own can at best be used as something to light the fire with. Here at 24 rue Nungesser et Coli (and even at 35 Sèvres in a cellar), I have substantial archives of all kinds: drawings, writings, notes, travel diaries, albums, etc. I don’t want some hooligan happily pillaging it all, and destroying series whose value depends on their being complete.
In other words, we’ll have to take a look at my archives so as to make the most of them (to sell them, or give them to people, institutions or museums).
Conclusion: the aim of this letter is to set you thinking and to request you – when the time comes –to take immediate possession, or rather, immediate control of my archives, so as to protect them from being wrongfully scattered.
And the present letter, with my signature, is to be used as documentary proof, for whatever purpose it may serve.
With my friendship and my gratitude. ‘’