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Le Corbusier: Architect and Feminist



Le Corbusier: Architect and Feminist

Flora Samuel

ISBN: 978-0-470-84747-3 April 2004 188 Pages

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This is a revealing book which, for the first time, investigates the central influence of feminism in the work of Le Corbusier; one of the most important and revered architects of all time.

The text covers Le Corbusier’s upbringing and training and sets this in the context of the cultural atmosphere of his time, covering issues of gender and religion. It reveals aspects of his private life such as personal relationships, which have barely been explored before as no biography currently exists. Furthermore, the author reveals, for the first time in print, a previously undiscovered and unpublished Le Corbusier building, making this book an incredibly significant addition to existing literature on the great man.

In short, the new evidence and theories contained in this volume amount to major revelations about this hugely revered and central architectural figure of the 20th Century.


List of Illustrations.

Illustration Credits.




Chapter 1.  Intimate Relationships.

Marie Charlotte Amélie Jeanneret-Perret: his mother.

Yvonne Gallis: his wife

Intimate Relations

Josephine Baker • Marguerite Tjader Harris • Minette De Silva.


Chapter 2.  Professional Relationships.

Women Abroad.

Women at Work.

Little Paris Birds • Married women • Women Writers.

Women Clients.

Villa Meyer • Villa Stein de Monzie • Maison de Mandrot • Heidi Weber House.


Women Collaborators.

Le Corbusier’s ‘best propagandists’ • Intellectual support.

Women Designers.

Charlotte Perriand • Eileen Gray • Jane Drew.


Chapter 3.  Feminism, fashion and physical culture.

Feminism in France at the beginning of the twentieth century.

Feminism and Physic al Culture.

The Anti-Corset league • Dance • Sport.


Fashionable society • Paul Poiret and the development of a new feminine aesthetic • Male adornment • Fashion magazines • Fashion and furniture.



Chapter 4.  Orphism and the quest for harmonious unity.

Origins of Le Corbusier’s interest in Orphism.

Catharism • Rabelais and Cervantes • Education and Self-Education • Synthesis.


Pythagoras • Plato and the Union of Opposites • Alchemy • Pico della Mirandola • Summary.

Orphism and the questioning of sexual roles in Early Twentieth Century Paris.

Joséphin Péladan • Guillaume Apollinaire • André Breton and the Surrealists • Jean Cocteau • Summary.


Chapter 5.  Women in the art of Le Corbusier Tools of Unity.


The exploitation of physical response in the pursuit of spiritual change • Geometry • Colour.

The artistic representation of women in Le Corbusier’s milieu.

Women of the East.

The emergence of the numinous woman in Le Corbusier’s painted work.

Union of Opposites.

Woman and the sea • Woman and the shell • Woman and music • All seeing woman • Ubu • La cathédrale de Sens • Siren • Taureau/Icône.

The Poem of the Right Angle 1947–1953.

Sun and water, man and woman • Flesh • Fusion: male and female • Fusion: Body and Spirit • Woman and enlightenment • Mary • Love.


Chapter 6.  The cult of woman and the religious architecture of Le Corbusier.

La Sainte Baume.

Background to the project • The site • Mary Magdalene • The Basilica • Permanent City • The Museum • The Theatre • The Park • Summary.


Building and Body • The Ear • The Vase • The Marys • East Door • Summary.


Chapter 7.  Sexual Harmony and the Urbanism of Le Corbusier.

Sex and Planning.

The Radiant City.

The spiritual home incarnate.



Selected Bibliography.


"…compelling reading…you will find much here to enjoy…" (Architecture Today, April 2004)