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Suddenly one is all in one piece. IO for] (the tenth letter of for Band 7 for C. the house was sold to the Swiss architect Marie Louise Sc'belbert. pop! pop! It's gone. The meat of history and culture: heavy matter. After Badovici's death in 1956.'" No road leads to this house. Wheeeere's the screen? There it is! . in a remote place. Two parallel lines ccnstitute the longing mark for any wall/vertical planarity of any material. any gravidity." between 1926 and 1929 by Eileen Gray for Jean Badovici and herself Gray named the house the alphabet).ang. The house had clearly been the scene of some considerable violence.the way down. and in the marrow of our bones. The site is "inaccessible and not overlooked BLOOMER from anywhere. come the first promise of crocus . is matter that has been around since the Big B. until Gray built her own house in Castellar in 1934. nd::matter. They form a . How little such longing marks express . but not drawn. an uncanny example of the way that architectural drawings are the:onging marks of the architect. 1027 BEATRIZ COLOMINA ! "Anger is perhaps the greatest inspiration in those days when the individual is separated in so many personalities. she commented on the state of the house: "Corbu did not want anything repaired and urged me to leave it as it is as a reminder of war. like the birthmark. this remote house that will eventually be the site of his own death? r ." . but signifying much.. They are a trace in the extreme. the domestic membrane through which spring breezes and summer's gravid air pass.mediating the boundary of home. it was World War II. what is Le Corbusier doing here? What brings him to this isolated spot. 2 E.Eileen Gray. The bullet holes are wounds from the German occupation. to the sill ~gaio. ing. representing little. a hundred feet Sea. Lodged in the poche of our walls. But what violence was there to the house before the bullets. ghostly. E.all form. thwack!. 1942 A modern white house is perched on the rocks. a little noth. Drawn.. I).· 0. but not the relatively gargantuan bodies of houseflies and errant finches. Gray and Badovici lived there most summer months.'" But what kind of war? Most obviously. In a 1969 letter. they are illegible. Then. they simply disappear into the representation of the window's frame.$ze&. She found the walls riddled with bullet holes. Roquebrune at Cap above the Mediterranean Martin in France (fig. Pella Rollscreens can be specified on an architectural drawing. It was designed and built This essay is a small piece from a book manuscript in progress called "The Matter of Matter: Architecture in the Age of Dematerialization. and even before the inevi166 table relationship of modern architecture to the military? And anyway.IOzt E for Eileen. But. to start with. nearly immaterial apparition.I027- [lJatf/e.
to Le Corbusier's trip to Algiers in the spring of 1931. But Ozenfant denies it. anti-romantic reaction of maturity that later. of the East.1027. one Spanish and the other Algerian. inaccessible places and scenes" that he had conquered through drawing at the very least. France. to the "strange. of "the other. as a Purist.some schoolbook graph paper with colored pencils. RoquebruneCap Martin.'? We will have to go back to Le Corbusier's earlier travels. the first encounter in what would become a long relationship to this city. turned this material into "preparatory studies for and the basis of a projected monumental figure composition. this study began with his drawing of Algerian women. Jean de Maisonseul (later director of the Musee National des Beaux-Arts d'Alger). It was perhaps through a natural. who as an eighteen-year-old Casbah. the sketches of the Spanish girl lying both alone on the bed and beautifully grouped together with the Algerian turned out accurate and realistic. I boy had guided Le Corbusier through the COLOMINA COlOMIl up a narrow stairway to their room.. as Samir Rail and Stanislaus von Moos have noted. "twelve years of uninterrupted study of Algiers. He said later that he had been "profoundly seduced by a type of woman particularly well built. E. he proposed to paint what was duplicable and near-at-hand. inaccessible places and scenes.' He also acquired a big collection of colored postcards depicting naked women surrounded by accoutrements from the Oriental bazaar.''As a young man he had traveled in the Balkans and the near East and had made sketches of strange." Yet Le Corbusier. there he sketched some nudes on to my amazement . View from the sea 168 "7 be a rather ordinary instance of the ingrained fetishistic appropriation of women. saying that Le Corbusier himself either de~troyed or hid them.6 Le Corbusier filled three notebooks of sketches in Algiers that he later claimed were stolen from his Paris atelier. The Algerian sketches and postcards appear to Eileen Gray.. or in Le Corbusier's words. considering them a "secret d'atelier.'" By all accounts. but he said that they were very bad and refused to show them. They brought us FIG. . 1926-29. recalls their tour: "Our wanderings through the side streets led us at the end of the day to the rue Kataroudji where he [Le Corbusier] was fascinated by the beauty of two young girls." of which he made many nude studies.
This became even more obvious when in 1963-64.'" From the months immediately following his return from Algiers until his death.10 Soon the two projects merged: he modified the gestures of Delacroix's figures. Crouching Woman. Paris • FIG. moment when Le Corbusier's studies found their way into a mural that he completed in 1938 in Martin. divested of their "exotic clothing" and the "Oriental decor" (figs. gradually making them correspond to the figures in his own sketches.d. the outline of the head and the hairpiece of the sitting figure in the middle. 2 the plans for which seem to have preoccupied Le Corbusier during many years. symptomatically for someone who kept everything. shortly before his death.3). (Ozenfant believed that Le Corbusier had redrawn his own sketches with the help of photographs or postcards. her relationship to Badovici notwithstanding. unhappy with the visible aging of the yellow tracing paper. Craffite Ii Cap Casbah. sketches of the outlines of the ~gur/s in this painting.lJ According to Schelbert. the mural may reveal as much as it conceals. Mural in Eileen Gray's house f. E. if not hysterical." But the process of drawing and redrawing the Les Femmes de la Casbah reached its most intense. He kept redrawing it. Le Corbusier seems to have made hundreds and hundreds of sketches on yellow tracing paper by laying it over the original sketches and redrawing the contours of the figures. if not his entire life. 4 Le Corbusier. 1833. [938." as Le ..fiG. burned the rest. Front View (after Delacroix'sLes Femmes dAlger). 4).Les painting Les Femmes d'AIger dans leur appartement. he claimed.1/8 x 12 /8 in. Watercolor on transparent paper. Le Corbusier. copied a selection of twenty-six drawings onto transparent paper and. was perhaps even an effacement of her sexuality. And in so far as Badovici is here represented as one of the three women. In fact.I027COLOHiNA Martin Le Corbusier referred to the mural as Sous les pilotis or Gmffite it Cap sometimes he also labeled it Three Women (fig. a defacement of Gray's architecture. dAlger dans leur appaTternent. Le Corbusier said that he would have called the final composition Les Femmes de la Oil on canvas.Musee du Louvre. Le Corbusier "explained to his friends that 'Badou' [Badovici] was depicted on the right. was 'the desired child.''''· This extraordinary scene. '9 . which was never born.W27.") Femmes Le Corbusier. his friend Eileen Gray on the left. 3 He also exhaustively studied Delacroix's famous producing a series of Eugene Delacroix. For Gray was openly gay. n. he never finished it. That the drawII !l1artin (Three Women). Roquebrune-Cap COLOMINA ing and redrawing of these images became a lifetime obsession already indicates that something was at stake. It is clearly a "theme for a psychiatrist. 2.Milan FI G. Private collection.
to Badovici and Gray. 5. in Peter 1952 Adam's words." Le Corbusier's reply is clearly addressed to . '5 particularly if we take into account Le Corbusier's obsessive relationship to this house as manifest (and this is only one example of a complex pathology) in his quasi-occupation of the site after World War I I. Le Corbusier actually got credit for the design of the house and even for some of its furniture. indeed. 5 house. The imposition of this appropriating gaze is even more brutal if Cabanon. and particularly this year through your vanity. 1951 COLOMINA CO LO M! Gray's house was referred to as "a house in Cap-Martin".?" The defacement of the house went hand in hand with the effacement of Gray as an. and some still suggesting that . Gray's name does not figure.'s Today the confusion continues. with many writers attributing the house to Badovici ': alone or. Early sketch for without Gray's permission (she had already moved out). She considered it an act of vandalism. A fellow architect." But the violence of this occupation had already been established when Le Corbusier painted the murals in the house (there were eight altogether) FIG. right behind Gray's house. December 30.to demon- . in most histories of modern architecture. Martin. "It was a rape. "What a narrow prison you have built for me over a number of years.Gray: \ f "You want a statement from me based on my worldwide authority to show .. the cabanon. a sort of watchdog FIG. 6 Le Corbusier." Badovici wrote to Le Corbusier in 1949 about the wholl episode (in a letter that Adam thinks may have been dict~ted by Gray herself'). figs. Roquebrune-Cap we remember that Gray had chosen the site because it was.Corbusier's Vers une architecture says of the nightmares with which people invest their houses. He occupied and controlled the site by overlooking it. had without her consent defaced her design. even as footnote. when he built a small wooden shack' (the cabanon.. p I~ i 17' ~ tA ~>i )} ~J Le Corbusier had collaborated on the project. including the most recent and ostensibly critical ones . the cabin being little more than an observation platform. at best.ifI correctly understand your innermost thoughts . as Adam put it. Le Corbusier. When Le Corbusier published the murals in his Oeuvre complete (I946) and in L'Architecture d'aujourd'hui (I948).. "inaccessible and not overlooked from anywhere. architect. a man she admired.. her name was not even mentioned. 6) for himself at the very limits of the adjacent property.'? Later on.
inside and outside. by drawing. He \epeatedly opposes' his technique of drawing to photography: "When one travels and works with visual things architecture. a letter to Vladimir Nekrassov in 1932. as von Moos points out. 7).OHINA Now Le Corbusier was threatening to carry the battle from the house into the newspapers and architectural periodicals. and gives to the modern furniture . the carefully orchestrated occupation of a house.one uses one's eyes and draws. ." Also send some documents on Castellar. it stays for good . etc. widely circulated at the time. In these terms. 8). plays a crural part in Le Corbusier's appropriation of the exterior world. we are enriched by the experience. Freud argues. for example) constructed by postcards and tourist guides when he actually enters these cities.1oz7with Badovici. but saw what he had already seen (in pictures). "Why then to paint on the walls . "Hotel Aletti Alger. Le Corbusier's complimentary letter to Gray. But what is the specific relationship between photography and drawing in Le Corbusier? The sketches of the Algerian women were not only redrawings of live models but also redrawings of postcards (fig.but on the contrary. Le Corbusier had repeatedly stated that the role of. then. He inhabits the photographs. the scene starts with an intrusion. OK. He "entered" those pictures. this U-boat of functionalism. Significantly.. But his public position completely contradicted what he had expressed privately. did Le Corbusier vandalize th~)'ery house he loved? Did he think that the murals would enhance it?. a bomb. and then answers. registered.erased from the Algiers drawings. effaced .:Certainly not." Le Corbusier's violation of Gray's house and identity is consistent with his fetishization of Algerian women.such dignified form. is the story that he so urgently needs to tell with Graffite a Cap Martin? Martin on J I74 We will have to go back once more to Algiers. sent from Roquebrune-Cap Aprilz8. Le Corbusier describes drawing itself as the occupation of a "stranger's house. One might even argue that the child in this mural . as has often been noted. so charming. after having spent some days in E. that of telling stories. Creation Is a Patient Search. whose absence. in which he acknowledges not only her sole authorship but also how much he likes the house: "I am so happy to tell you 'how much those few days spent in your house bave made me appreciate . of weight.. Le Corbusier had written a letter to Gray. we learn... you send me some photographic documents of this manipulation of pure functionalism . 1938. he not only "knew what he wanted to see.?" as Celik says. "It is when one is pursuing another task. is the specific role 175 COl." COLOHINA Why. defaced at Cap Martin. painting or sculpture . who use a machine to do their seeing for them. The redrawings of the Les Femmes d'A!ger are also more likely to have been realized. to dematerialize it. One could even argue that the construction of the Algerian women in French postcards. In fact. we enter the house of a stranger. as prop. then. Le Corbusier precisely reenacts the images of foreign cities (Istanbul or Algiers. domestic space. The camera is a tool for idlers. to remove from it all sense of stability. he writes: "By working with our hands. In 1938.strate 'the quality of pure and functional architecture' which is manifested by you in the house at Cap Martin." Drawing. as a means to violently destroy the wall. from postcards and reproductions than from the original painting in the Louvre. as Zeynep Celik notes. then. in the end.the equipment ." would have informed Le Corbusier's live drawings in the same way that. But the house is.despite the crucial role of photography in his work.'?' Statements such as this have gained Le Corbusier the reputation of having a phobia for the camera . the rare spirit which dictates all the organization.. In both Algiers and Cap Martin."? So what. so full of spirit" (fig.'?' The mural for Le Corbusier is a weapon against architecture.bears the letterhead. at the risk of killing architecture?" he asks in the same letter. then I will spread this debate W reconstitutes the missing (maternal) phallus. the endless drawing and redrawing is a violent substitution that required the house.!the mural in architecture is to "destroy" the wall. organizes fetishism.entered. Once the impression has been recorded by the pencil." In his last book. so as to fix deep down in one's experience what is seen. In these terms. in front of the whole world. and has been destroyed by my pictorial interventions. inscribed. Violence is organized around or through the house.the same year he would go on to paint the mural Graffite a Cap Martin." So what.he writes: "I admit the mural not to enhance a wall.
the postcard. was so impressed with the mural at Cap Martin that it prompted him to do his own versions of the Femmes d'Afger. the whole mentality of the Femmes de fa Casbah drawings is photographic.' that paintings are .. But if Le Corbusier's mural had so impressed him. 17i COLOMINA I COLOMINA FIG.. in which he praises E.. This photographic sensibility becomes most obvious with the murals at RoquebruneCap Martin. It is said that in using black Le Corbusier was thinking about Picasso's Guernica of the year before. 8 was not in the Delacroix. an interpretation to which Le Corbusier himself has contributed with the circulation of that famous photograph of him." It was. of course. in this scene. and that it had to be here. the photograph. the grid of the original graph paper allowing the image to be enlarged to any scale. "writes Victor Burgin. 1938.. Roquebrune-Cap Martin.I to be valued because of their presence! "'9 This separation between painting and photography organizes the dominant understanding of Le Corbusicr's relationship to photography.IOr. the craftsman detached from mechanical reproduction. the reclining crossed-legged woman (inviting but inaccessible). Not only are they made from photographs but they are developed according to a repetitive process in which the images are systematically reproduced on transparent paper. 7 Letter from Le Corbusier to Eileen Gray. Graffite it Cap Martin I that "Femmes kabyles. What these accounts seem to ignore is that here the drawing. This is the only nude image of him that we know. working at one of the murals (fig.. of the photographic image in the fetishistic scene of the Femmes de fa Casbah project? The fetish is "pure presence." postcard bought by Le Corbusier in he remembered. 9). Le Corbusier used an electric projector to enlarge the image of a small drawing onto the 2.. What is normally overlooked is that Graffite it Cap Martin was not conceived on the wall itself.. and that Picasso. is done "after" the photograph: the art reproduction. is telling. In fact. in turn. the handcrafted artistic meditation. Apparently Picasso drew Delacroix's painting from memory and was later pappe" to find out that the figure that he had painted in the middle.. with her legs crossed..5 x 4 meter white wall where he etched the mural in black. they have been understood as a paradigm of Le Corbusier the painter. "and how many times have I been told that photographs 'lack presence. why did Picasso choose not to Algiers in 1931 . Traditionally. naked. Le Corbusier's symptomatic representation of Gray. Note the letterhead: 1-I6tel Aletti Alger FIG. lying down.
Le Corbusier did not think of it as an invasion but as a gift. the sexualities of the other b91keworking the image.see the swastika inscribed on the chest of the woman on the right? The swastika may be yet one more sign of Le Corbusier's political opportunism (we must remember that the mural was done in 1938).pace. DrawCOLOMINA ing on and in photography is the instrument of colonization.. But the German soldiers. 9 COLOMINJ Le Corbusier painting one of the murals in E. Victor Burgin writes: "Fetishism thus accomplishes that separation of knowledge from belief characteristic of representation.there is a coming and going between knowledge and belief"" So if Le Corbusier "enters the house of a stranger" by drawing. Gray was outraged. as if it had been the site of some execution. now even her name was defaced.'?' No charge for the discharge. Like all colonists.we cannot do both at the same time . Seven great schemes (seven enormous studies) were prepared free of charge during those years". FIG. "the house" stand in here for the photograph? By drawing he enters the photograph that is itself a stranger's house.. We know we see a two-dimensional surface.. When recapitulating his l'fe work five years before his death. he symptomatically wrote about Algiers and Cap Martin in the same terms: "From I930 L-C devoted twelve years to an uninterrupted study of Algiers and its future . The photograph stands to the subject-viewer as does the fetished object . Le Corbusier's architecture depends in some way on specific techniques of occupying yet gradually effacing the domestic space of the other. too.. we believe we look through it into three-dimensional ~. after all.. the first act of colonization. for this very wall was found riddled with bullet holes. Oc~tlpying and reterritorializing the space. Eight mural paintings !free of charge) in the Badovici and Helen Grey house at Cap Martin. who occupied the house during World \lVar II._ i i J .. could . The entry to the house of a stranger is always a breaking and entering . Such gifts cannot be returned. The mural was a black and white photograph. may not have seen the swastika either. has been read in terms of the fetish. Photography.there being no entry without force no matter how many invitations.I027 l7S . its motive is the unity of the subject. Le Corbusier's fetish is photographic. And renaming is. "1938--:39. and later.. the city.
1949.' II 19· "Quelle reclusion etroite que rn'a faite votre vanite depuis quelques annees et qu'ellc m'a faite plus particulierement cette annee. In subsequent publications. My IYork. P. 1. 16. 6." Letter from Badovici to Le Corbusier. 1964. and an Eileen Gray sofa as "pezzo unico di l. they loved her and they hated the arrogant Badovici. 181 2. They understood perfectly what the mural was about. . 93. P. It reemerged from its original medium. Muralist. In 1944. 91. Von Moos. in fact. (her house in Casrellar}.r-. June 8. 1965. II. particuliere.Jeanneret. 933. Adam. as quoted by von Moos in "Le Corbnsier as Painter.From several conversations of both Le Corousier and Ozcnfant with Samir Rafi in 1964.See Adam. January 5. having lunch • with them every day. Call. 196. the house is COLOMIN) "mistakenly" demolished the mural Gmlfit(JJ I like to think that he did so on purpose. s. Peter Adam." 14· Letter from Marie Louise Schelbert to Stanislaus von Moos. P. Viguier. 38-42. using photographs. The passage here referred to is omitted in the English version of the book.lO27 12. P. 100. the mural has been reconstructed in the house either simply described as "Maison Badovici" or credited directly to Badovici.P. Le Corbusier. as quoted by von Moos. Since then." Casabe!la 480 (May I982). r. 18.rc d'bistoire et de cnnlisa180 lion du Maghreb (Algiers) (January 1968). Le Corbusier refers to the mural as Graffiti at Cap Martin. and in "Le Corbusier et 'Les Femmes d 'Alger.s. as quoted by Stanislaus von Moos in "Le Corbusier as Painter.7 x 64. The masons knew her well. they showed more enlightenment than most critics and historian. building the home with the masons. in an article entitled "Le Corbusier. In My Work. They destroyed it. 334-35· No caption of the photographs of the murals published in Lrlrcbilecture d'aujaurd'bui mentions Eileen Gray. P. as quoted by Brigitte Loye in Eileen Gray 1879-1976: rlrcbitecture Design (Paris: Analeph/]. She did the same thing when building her house at Castellar. the house is d~scribed as "Firmata Eileen Gray ." 89· 7." Interiors (19. H~rdrawings and plans VOIlMoos. Milan. Eileen Gray: Architect/Designer (New York: Harry N. 60. February '4. 17. 1. of architecture.I027 Menton (Samt-Tropez). James Thrall Soby. 10. 15· Le Corbusier. s. The occupation continues. So.Le Corbusier" (signed Eileen Gray and Le Corbusier). 1923). Rafi. veTS une architecture (Paris: Cres. 49.1968. Samir Rafi. For example." OppSsilions '9-20 ('980). 86. I983). P. February 14. a local mason ill ckrge down to the sea Corbusier as Painter.4 cm. 23-25. 1987). In so doing. She lost everything. "Le Corbusier et 'Les Femmes d'Alger.. 54-55. " Samir Rafi labels of some work in the house the final composition from which the mural was derived "Assemblage des trois femmes: Composition definitive.r. 4. as quoted by Jean Paul Rayon and Brigitte Loye in "Eileen Gray architetto I879-1976. s. 9· Conversation of Ozenfant with Samir Rafi. December 30.r. "l.Pioniera del Design. 1938 (my emphasis)." In I981. COLOMINA Encre de Chine sur papier calque.'" 52. 93. Ibid. Fondation Le Corbusi~r. executed in sgraffito technique on white plaster. the retreating German Army blew up Gray's apartment in E. Abrams. English translation in Adam.In Ommagio a Eileen Gray. in a house designed by Le Corbuster and P. The first recognition since the thirties of Gray as architect came from Joseph Rykwert. In 1977. in Casa Vogue II9 (Milan). 13. as quoted by Samir Rafi in "Le Corbusier et 'Les Femmes d'Alger. 335. Letter from Marie Louise Schelbert to Stanislaus von Mc~s. On August 26.e Corbusier" (unique piece by Le Corbusier). Gray had spent almost three years living on the site in complete isolation. 5. the endless redrawing of the Femmes de fa [.18). trans James Palmes (London: The Architectural Press. 5. 1969. Muralist. Cap Martin. 174· interior and exterior. 311. the caption of the murals at Roquebrune-Cap Martin reads: "Murals. Le Corbusier went from and swam to his death. Letter from Jean de Maisonseul to Samir Rafi.'" Rr». 51. having vanchlized and Tempe a Pailla 8." Stanislaus von Moos labels the mural Three Women (Graffile Ii Cap Martin). "Le Corbusier." published in Interiors (June 1948). I969. were used to light fires. In "Le Casbah still unfinished.960). as quoted by Samir Rafi in "Lc Crubusier er 'Les Fernmes d'Alger. p." Domus 468 (December I966). .
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