Last year, an application was submitted for various examples of Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier's works in seven countries, including India, to be classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Swiss-born architect (1887-1965) is well known in India even today, primarily for the city of Chandigarh which is one of the earliest planned cities in India. Till date, it remains a marvel for its broad pavements and aesthetic buildings. In order to commemorate his 50th death anniversary, Musee des beaux-arts of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, curated a travelling show on the life and works of the architect. One hundred and fifty black and white photographs will be on display at 'Le Corbusier - Mastering the Image' courtesy the Embassy of Switzerland in India as part of the 'Year of Swiss Innovation in India 2015-2016'.
There are several components in this show but for the time deprived, the first pit stop ought to be the 30-40 photographs taken by Le Corbusier himself. The first time that these photographs were shown to the public was in 2012 at his hometown La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland. But the images themselves served as visual notes instead of being works of art. City-based architect Bijoy Ramachandran of Hundred Hands counts Le Corbusier as an inspiration. According to him, "Corbusier's photographs were intricately linked to the element of gaze, an external look at a city." He adds, "The photographs and the sketches have a bird's eye viewpoint, probably the result of his aerial travels to the cities."
Through the show, the architect becomes the main talking point. Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret to a bourgeois Protestant family, he designed his first house at the age of 20. Back in those days, he was quite a paradox. Some of his largest projects were in Soviet Russia in 1930s - he was known to have admired Mussolini - and has even been dubbed as Fascist leaning (Le Corbusier, a French Fascism by Xavier de Jarcy). At the same time, the architect also built for Jewish families in Switzerland, and in reality never joined a fascist organisation.