Le Corbusier's landscapes

In hopes of dancing through the Rain Room, we headed to MoMA a few weekends ago. But not being people overly fond of waiting in line for more than four hours, we decided to check out another exhibit instead: Le Corbusier, An Atlas of Modern Landscapes, which will run through September 23.

This is MoMA's first major exhibit of the work of Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret), curated by Jean-Louis Cohen; it "[encompasses] his work as an architect, interior designer, artist, city planner, writer, and photographer ... [and] reveals the ways in which Le Corbusier observed and imagined landscapes throughout his career, using all the artistic techniques at his disposal, from his early watercolors of Italy, Greece, and Turkey, to his sketches of India, and from the photographs of his formative journeys to the models of his large-scale projects."

Although Le Corbusier's architecture is examined in depth, it was some of his earliest works and his loosest sketched plans that I found most intriguing; being primarily acquainted with how his work has translated into the modern city of Chandigarh, it offered an intimacy and a closeness that I hadn't associated with, say, the Capitol Complex or his towering Open Hand. (They're also a far cry from his later theorizing on the Modulor, so regimented and orderly a system.) 

Going back to his youth or the beginnings of his career offers a different view of his vision, glimpses of the world captured in pastel or ink as he passed through different places. For instance, a mountain study in watercolor and gouache from 1904-05:

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Or consider silhouettes of Istanbul, from 1911, in haunting blues;  trees and reflections on water at Tène, from 1915-16; or a 1917 seaside landscape, light washes of color lapping against the horizon.

His 1908 landscape with flowers and fields, too, is a treasure:

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Images from the Jean-Louis Cohen book published to accompany the exhibition.