Le Corbusier - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Video

    Le Corbusier 'Femme rouge et pelote verte', 1932

    Le Corbusier's 'Femme rouge et pelote verte', 1932 to be offered in our 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 8 November 2015 in New York.

  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Zurich, Centre Le Corbusier – Heidi Weber, Thema “Frauen," 12 Olbilder von Le Corbusier aus den Jahren 1928-33, October 1976 - January 1977
    Neuchâtel, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Le Corbusier, July 5 - September 14, 1980
    Weimar, Apolda (European Capital of Culture Exhibiton), Le Corbusier - Painter, Designer, Sculptor, Poet, 1999
    Geneva, Musée Rath, Le Corbusier ou la Synthèse des Arts, March 9 - August 6, 2006
    Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Le Corbusier: Museum and Collection Heidi Weber, June 5 - September 3, 2007
    Maldonado, Uruguay, Fundación Pablo Atchugarry, Le Corbusier, El Artista: Grandes Obras De La Colección Heidi Weber Zurich, January 2 - March 25, 2010

  • Literature

    Thema “Frauen," 12 Olbilder von Le Corbusier aus den Jahren 1928-33, exh. cat., Centre Le Corbusier – Heidi Weber, Zurich, 1977, n.p. (illustrated)
    Le Corbusier, exh. cat., Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Neuchâtel, 1980, cat, n. 39
    N. Jornod, J. Jornod, Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jenneret): Catalogue Raisonné de l'Oeuvre Peint. Vol. 1, Milan: Skira, 2005, p. 529 (illustrated)
    J. Calatrava, En Los Alrededores del Poema del Angulo Recto: 7 Ensayos Entorno a Le Corbusier, Madrid: Circulo De Bellas Artes, 2006, p. 35 (illustrated)
    Le Corbusier, El Artista: Grandes Obras de La Colección Heidi Weber Zurich, exh. cat., Fundación Pablo Atchugarry and Heidi Weber Museum Centre Le Corbusier, Maldonado, Uruguay, 2010, p. 100 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    “There is no such thing as a ‘pure’ sculptor, a ‘pure’ painter, or a ‘pure’ architect. The three-dimensional event finds its fulfillment in an artistic whole at the service of poetry.” Le Corbusier, 1948

    Le Corbusier (Charles-Édouard Jeanneret 1887-1965) is known, without a doubt, as one of the most influential and famous architects of the 20th century. What the general public knows very little about, however, is that in reality he was a painter and plastic artist in search of aesthetic perfection all his life. In fact, he never drew an architectural plan himself in his entire life, but drew by hand with near perfect perspective, 3D drawings with his vision of the shapes and forms that made his architecture become world famous. But besides having first been a painter, sculptor, engraver (the only cra˛ he graduated with), furniture and lamp designer, he was also an avid writer who published an amazing opus of over 50 books during his lifetime. One of them, in fact his very first book Towards a new architecture (1923), was chosen as one of the 100 most influential and important books out of billions of books published in the 20th century, together with others like The Capital by Karl Marx and Relativity by Albert Einstein. All of this made him the universal artist, the genius of the last century—or as many of his disciples call him, the Leonardo of the 20th century—a reason why he has also been chosen together with Alberto Giacometti and Sophie Taeuber-Arp (the wife of Jean Arp and an artist in her own right) to be featured on the current Swiss banknotes since 1997. As Le Corbusier himself once wrote: “If you want to attribute any importance to my architecture you need to discover the sources in my painted work, my secret search for aesthetic perfection which I have pursued my entire life.”

    Le Corbusier, the prolific Swiss-born French architect, painter, urbanist, writer and designer, embodied a spirit of interdisciplinary exploration through his experimentation across media. His graphic output was abundant, consisting of hundreds of paintings, thousands of drawings and watercolors, and scores of collages, lithographs, and murals. Between 1918 and 1927 Le Corbusier and the painter Amédée Ozenfant created Purism, a response to Cubism which forged a vital link between avant-garde practices in early 20th-century painting and architecture through its return to clear, ordered forms expressive of the modern machine age.

    The Purist works set the stage for the exploration of the canvas as a space rather than a surface, and after this period Le Corbusier moved away from simplification and transparency towards more complex pictorial arrangements. This movement can be seen in his work beginning in 1927 with the loosening of the Purist syntax and the introduction of what he referred to as objets à réaction poétique. From this point onward he turned to both natural and mythic subjects in addition to machine-inspired iconography, and began incorporating the female figure into his paintings. Organic objects and textures emerge in the forms of rocks, roots, shells, and bones. Shadow-like figures appear in front of doors and windows, leading to secretive spaces, and recognizable elements such as hands, eyes, and women’s breasts are rendered with such sweeping dynamism that they nearly burst from their forms. His paintings begin to be, at the same time, suffused with an overt eroticism, which is also reminiscent of contemporaneous Surrealist concerns, especially the theme of desire as a central creative and regenerative principle.

    Such concerns are readily apparent in Femme Rouge et Pelote Verte, a work that reveals his interest not only in objets à réaction poétique, but also his fascination with the female form. A protean figure dominates the left hand portion of the canvas. The anonymity of her masklike face and the stylization of her body combine eroticism, beauty, reverence and power. A comparison with a preparatory study shows his initial conception of her form, outlined in strong black lines, and his early idea of conflating her body with the rock-like object which has been displaced to the background in the completed work. In both the drawing and the painting, Le Corbusier accentuates the figure’s hands, suggesting touch, the hand of the artist, and contact, and also calls to mind proto-Surrealist artworks including Giorgio de Chirico’s inflated gloves and mannequins floating in metaphysical cityscapes which Le Corbusier would have been familiar with from the pages of La Révolution Surréaliste. In the foreground one sees objects from the post-Purist vocabulary – a thimble, a stick of chalk and a skein of yarn, whose figure-eight outline echoes the shape of the woman’s breasts above – placed alongside a typical Purist cube (alluding to both Le Corbusier’s fascination for geometric forms as well as to Cubism), revealing his strategies of juxtaposition and displacement.

    This biomorphic ochre figure appears in an amorphous space which contains the allusion to architectural elements in the right-hand portion of the painting. The louvered shutter and wrought-iron balcony, whose shadow creates interplay between interior and exterior zones, recall the works of Henri Matisse. Matisse’s Interior with Violin evinces a similar interest in exploring planar disjunctions and shifting perspectives as witnessed through the oscillating viewpoints that create spatial ambiguities. Le Corbusier recorded seeing Matisse’s work in his journal as early as 1918, and the motif of the window, both revealing and concealing, would figure in several of his subsequent works. These elisions between inner and outer, organic and manmade, and objects and bodies speak to Le Corbusier’s myriad conceptions of form and space.

    The painting was bought directly by Heidi Weber, Le Corbusier’s associate who produced and brought his furniture to the world market, as well as the most dedicated collector of his art. She also commissioned him, and was the builder of, his very last architectural masterpiece, the Maison de l’Homme (1967), better known as the Heidi Weber Museum-Center Le Corbusier in Zurich.

Property from The Heidi Weber Museum Collection


Femme rouge et pelote verte

oil on canvas
51 1/8 x 38 1/4 in. (130 x 97 cm)
Signed and dated "Le Corbusier 32" lower right.

$4,000,000 - 6,000,000 

Sold for $4,645,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm