It has long been known that Le Corbusier, famed for his revolutionary concrete creations, including a housing project in Marseille called La Cité Radieuse, had some ties to France's collaborationist regime under Field Marshal Philippe Pétain.
But recent research suggests that one of the world's most famous modern architects was a "militant fascist" who was far more anti-Semitic and a bigger fan of Hitler than previously thought.
In a written response, the culture ministry said it could not comment on “the extent to which Le Corbusier was fascinated by totalitarianism nor the scale of his commitment to the Vichy regime” - a “legitimate” debate it left to “historians”.
However, it said it “took full responsibility for the fact that the architectural work of Le Corbusier is of an exceptional nature” and should thus be cherished, adding that it was protected by Unesco.
The ministry received support from Michel Guerrin, editor of Le Monde, who said if you follow the signatories' logic, why not order "our state-funded architecture schools to erase the artist from their teachings, close his buildings to visitors, remove his name from plaques and banish his works from museums”.
They failed, he said, to “take into account the complexity of the interwar period where modern aesthetics - purity, functionality, rationalism - passed through ideologies and regimes."