“Objects are immediately seen as having a certain size as well as having a location in space. No object is seen as being unique or isolated. A scale of size, a scale of brightness, or a scale of distance is always present in the total visual/perceptual field.”
“To be seen, an object must be assigned a place in the whole. Perception involves not only the placement of objects, shapes, colors, etc. but an interplay of directed tensions. These tensions are not created by the viewer but are inherent forces within the image.”
“Balance is a state wherein the forces acting upon an object compensate for the presence of each other. A pure state of balance causes all action to cease.”
“Balance does not require symmetry.”
“The properties of weight and direction are always dynamic.”
“Weight depends on a location or visual composition. Strong compositions support more visual weight than weak or off-center compositions that do not respect the natural horizontal/vertical grid structure of any visual field.”
“Perception may be influenced by the viewer’s intrinsic interest in an image, or by the viewer’s hopes, fears, and knowledge.”
“We live in a space where dynamics vary with direction. Top and bottom seem to mean more to us than right or left.”
“Moving away from the center of gravity requires work.”
“In a visual system, weight and direction cause movement, or a state of imbalance that must be stabilized in order to bring the system back to equilibria.”
In the 1920s and ’30s, Le Corbusier’s most significant work was in urban planning. In such published plans as La Ville Contemporaine (1922), the Plan Voisin de Paris (1925), and the several Villes Radieuses (1930-36), he advanced ideas dramatically different from the comfortable, low-rise communities proposed by earlier garden city planners. During this 20-year span he also built many villas and several small apartment complexes and office buildings. In these hard-edged, smooth-surfaced, geometric volumes, he created a language of what he called “pure prisms”–rectangular blocks of concrete, steel, and glass, usually raised above the ground on stilts, or pilotis, and often endowed with roof gardens intended to compensate for the loss of usable floor area at ground level.
After World War II, Le Corbusier moved away from purism and toward the so-called New Brutalism, which utilized rough-hewn forms of concrete, stone, stucco, and glass. Newly recognized in official art circles as an important 20th-century innovator, he represented (1946) France on the planning team for the United Nations Headquarters building in New York City–a particularly satisfying honor for an architect whose prize-winning design (1927) for the League of Nations headquarters had been rejected. Simultaneously, he was commissioned by the French government to plan and build his prototypical Vertical City in Marseilles. The result was the Unite d’Habitation (1946-52)–a huge block of 340 “superimposed villas” raised above the ground on massive pilotis, laced with two elevated thoroughfares of shops and other services and topped by a roof-garden community center that contained, among other things, a sculptured playground of concrete forms and a peripheral track for joggers.
His worldwide reputation led to a commission from the Indian government to plan the city of CHANDIGARH, the new capital of the Punjab, and to design and build the Government Center (1950-70) and several of the city’s other structures. These poetic, handcrafted buildings represented a second, more humanistic phase in Le Corbusier’s work that also was reflected in his lyrical Pilgrim Church of Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp (1950-54) in the Vosges Mountains of France; in his rugged monastery of La Tourette, France (1954-59); and in the several structures he designed (from 1958) at Ahmedabad, in India. Le Corbusier accidentally drowned in a swimming accident off Cap Martin in the Mediterranean on Aug. 27, 1965.
Marcel Duchamp, who in 1915 had moved to New York City and in the same year coined the term “ready-made,” was the chief anticipator of Dada. For his ready-mades, Duchamp took mundane objects such as snow shovels, urinals, and bottle racks, gave them titles, and signed them, thus turning their context from utility to aesthetics. Duchamp also invented word games, made an abstract film, and edited several reviews in the United States from 1913. His friend Francis Picabia worked with him and with Man Ray in New York on the Dada Review 291; Picabia founded the Dada Review 391 in Barcelona in 1917.
Artist, Designer & Photographer
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