Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, universally referred to as Le Corbusier or ‘the crow-like’, is best known as a Swiss-French architect and  urban planner, one of the pioneers of what is now regarded as modern architecture. He grew up in La Chaux-de-Fonds in western Switzerland, moved to Paris in 1917, and became a French citizen in 1930.

Le Corbusier began his own architectural practice with his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret, a partnership that would last until the 1950s, with an interruption in the World War II years. His architectural career spanned five decades, and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America. Dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities, Le Corbusier was very influential in urban planning, and was a founding member of the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne. Some of his urban planning ideas have been criticised for their indifference to pre-existing cultural sites, and his ties with fascism, antisemitism and the dictator Benito Mussolini have resulted in continuing contention.

In 1918 Le Corbusier met the cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant, in whom he recognised a kindred spirit. Ozenfant encouraged him to paint, and the two began a period of collaboration. Rejecting cubism as irrational and romantic, the pair jointly published their manifesto, Après le cubism, and established a new artistic movement, purism. Ozenfant and Le Corbusier began writing for a new journal, L’Esprit Nouveau, and promoted their ideas of art and architecture with energy and imagination.

In the first issue of the journal in 1920, Jeanneret adopted Le Corbusier, an altered form of his maternal grandfather’s name, Lecorbésier, as a pseudonym, reflecting his belief that anyone could reinvent themselves. Adopting a single name to identify oneself was in vogue by artists in many fields during that era.

We are very grateful to our Russian friend Yuri for suggesting the inclusion of this artist, and for supplying most of the images.

Example illustration