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BOOK

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BOOKS - Le Corbusier: The Artist Birkhäuser, 2005.160pp. E147 (£99)

When the Pompidou Centre staged its centenary Le Corbusier show in 1987, Yve-Alain Bois - now professor of modern art at Harvard - wrote: 'Great an architect as Le Corbusier was, he was an abominable sculptor. He was also a very mediocre painter. . .

I would even say that his ideas suffer as a result, and that the incrustations and frescoes he felt obliged to inflict on us in his last buildings are like annoying warts from which we instinctively avert our gaze.' Corb famously painted in the mornings and practised architecture after lunch, and even Bois acknowledges the 'interest' of the Purist paintings in their close connection with Corb's architecture of the period - the outlines of his still-life arrangements echoed in the plans of the 1920s villas, for instance. But one could argue that Corb's later art, apart from producing the motifs and iconography that Bois finds distasteful, was integral to what he went on to build, in its organic, primitive and expressionist elements.

One wouldn't argue, though, that Corb has a particular 'touch', a painterliness, that makes it vital to see these works in the flesh - they're fine as reproductions.

And in this volume, drawn from the collection of Heidi Weber (client for Corb's last building, in Zurich), they're reproduced with especial flair, being placed on monochrome coloured backgrounds (green, blue, yellow, grey) as if against strips of Corb's Salubra wallpaper.

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