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le corbusier murals around the globe

A Comprehensive Guide to Le Corbusier Murals Across the Globe

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Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland in 1887 and became a French citizen in 1930. Throughout his career, he undertook an array of projects all around the world, many of which are still standing today. One of his lesser-known but equally impressive contributions to the art world is his collection of murals.

Le corbusier cite radieuse
Le Corbusier on site during construction of Cite Radieuse

Le Corbusier’s murals can be found in various locations around the world, each with its own unique story and significance. From the tiny cabonon in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France to the High Court in Chandigarh, India, his murals continue to inspire and awe visitors with their bold colors, geometric shapes, and abstract designs. While some of his murals have been lost over time, many still remain and are open to the public. This article aims to provide a complete list (as best I could hunt down) of Le Corbusier’s murals around the world, detailing their location, history, and significance.

Le Corbusier: An Overview

Le Corbusier was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, and writer, born on October 6, 1887. He was one of the pioneers of modern architecture and a key figure in the International Style movement. He is known for his innovative designs, use of modern materials, and his belief in the importance of functionality in architecture.

Le Corbusier’s work has been influential around the world and he is considered one of the most important architects of the 20th century. He designed many buildings, including private residences, museums, and government buildings, as well as furniture and other objects. He also created many murals, which are an important part of his legacy.

These murals often feature abstract geometric shapes and bold colors, reflecting Le Corbusier’s interest in modern art and design. They are an integral part of the buildings in which they are located, and are often seen as an important aspect of the overall design.

Le Corbusier’s murals continue to be admired and studied by architects, designers, and art historians around the world. They are a testament to his innovative approach to design and his belief in the importance of art and architecture working together to create functional and beautiful spaces.

The Le Corbusier Murals

Le Corbusier murals are characterized by bold lines, geometric shapes, and vibrant colors. Here are some of the most famous Le Corbusier murals around the world (bonus interactive map included!):

The Mural of the Palace of Assembly

These murals are located at the entrance the Palace of Assembly in Chandigarh, India. They depict various scenes from Indian mythology and history. The door mural is a stunning example of Le Corbusier’s use of color and form to create a powerful visual impact. The mural is still intact and is considered one of the most significant works of art in India. Le Corbusier joined forces with Prime Minister Nehru to represent India’s modern vision.

Le Corbusier Mural - Palace of Assembly
This mural is composed of separate enameled panels

Nehru trusted Le Corbusier to invent symbolic artwork for this door, a true testament to the artist’s vision. The door is a visual delight, divided into two halves. The upper half is an ode to humanity’s cosmic connection, featuring solstices, lunar eclipses, and the Equinox. The lower half bursts with life, showcasing animals, a desert, lush greenery, and the symbolic Tree of Knowledge.

The Concrete Mural at Unite D’Habitation, Nantes-Reze

The “Habitation Radieuse” in Nantes, also known as the “Unité d’Habitation of Nantes-Rezé,” is a prominent architectural project that reflects Le Corbusier’s innovative design concepts, particularly the use of the Modulor system. This time he’s added a tree. Love it!!

le corbusier mural 13
This is probably my favorite concrete mural of Le Corbusier's

The Mural of the Swiss Pavilion

This mural is located in the Swiss Pavilion. It is a large, colorful mural that depicts various scenes from Swiss life. It was painted in 1948 to replace the original photo mosaic mural created by both Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret in 1933, which was destroyed during the war. 

original photo mural at swiss pavilion
Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, Photomosaic for the Swiss Pavilion, Paris (1929-1933). This was destroyed during WW2 and replaced with the mural that still stands today (see pic below)
Le Corbusier Mural Swiss Pavilion
The original sketch (above) and the finished product of the mural at the Swiss Pavilion (1948)

The Mural On Facade of L’Etoile de la Mer

This mural (“le guignette” – sandpiper) is on the front of the restaurant that sits adjacent to his Cabonon in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France.  

le corbusier etoile de mer mural
This is the entrance to the restaurant adjacent to Le Corbusier's cabin. I wonder if he got free expressos for life?

The Mural at Notre Dame du Haut Chapel, Ronchamp France

This mural is in the form of a spectacular rotating door. Composed of enamel panels, this mural is quintessential modernist Le Corbusier imagery.

Le Corbusier mural at notre dame
This door opens on an axis in the center, creating a pivot(see image below). Amazing.
le corbusier door opening
Love the way this swivels open! Genius.
le corbusier palace door mural
The door before being shipped off from Paris

The Concrete Mural in Unite d'Habitation a Marseille

This concrete cast can be found at the entrance to his world famous “Cite Radieuse”. Notice his use of the iconic “Modulor Man.”

le corbusier mural concrete cite radieuse
It would seem that the Modulor Man was an important figure in a LOT of Le Corbusier's design

The Mural at Le Corbusier’s Atelier

This covered one of the walls at his famous Atelier in Paris. You can see him working in front of it (see pic). 

Le Corbusier Mural - atelier
Love this piece!
Le Corbusier - Atelier 35
This mural was later moved to maison Laroche after Le Corbusier's death

The Concrete Mural at the Baghdad Gymnasium

This little known gymnasium (once known as the Saddam Hussein Gymnasium), was designed by Le Corbusier in 1956. Le Corbusier was commissioned by King Faisal II to build this complex in anticipation of the 1960 Summer Olympics.

Le Corbusier Baghdad Gymnasium Mural
There's that Modulor Man again...
Le corbusier baghdad gymnasium
For a while, this building was known as the Saddam Hussein Gymnasium, until things, um...changed.

The Mural at the Home of Constantino Nivola and Ruth Guggenheim

Nestled in Springs, New York (in The Hamptons), the home of Pietro Nivola and Katherine Stahl stands as a testament to the Hamptons’ rich artistic heritage. Originally built in 1754, this cottage encapsulates the area’s transformation from a creative hub for midcentury artists to a modern retreat, despite its relocation 100 feet from its original site.
The Nivola residence, situated near the former home of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, became a focal point for artistic collaboration, led by Costantino Nivola, a Sardinian sculptor, and Ruth Guggenheim, a German-born jewelry designer. Purchased in 1948, the house served as a collaborative space for this creative community, a characteristic still evident today.

le corbusier mural at nivola residence

The interior, marked by white walls, houses an array of artworks, including Costantino’s sculptures and a remarkable two-wall mural by Le Corbusier, painted in 1950. This mural, created using materials like acrylic, oils, and house paint found on-site, exemplifies the artistic exchange prevalent among the Nivolas’ circle. Le Corbusier and Constantino “Tino” Nivola shared a painting studio in the Village in NYC. It was there that Le Corbusier learned some of Nivola’s sand casting techniques, which can be seen in version of the Modulor Man was cast in concrete near the entrance of the ‘Cité Radieuse’

 

The Cabanon

Cabanon, a small holiday cabin in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, features interior murals that exemplify his artistic vision. These murals, painted directly onto the wooden surfaces, display a blend of abstract and figurative elements, characteristic of his broader artistic work. They represent an intimate expression of Le Corbusier’s creativity, seamlessly integrating art with the living space. I would love to see this in person some day!

le corbusier cabanon mural 3
le corbusier cabanon mural 2
le corbusier cabanon mural 1

The Murals at E1027

Le Corbusier painted a series of murals at E-1027, a villa designed by architect Eileen Gray in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France. These murals, added without Gray’s permission, are a striking mix of bold, abstract figures and organic shapes, contrasting with Gray’s more subtle design aesthetics. They are a source of controversy, reflecting the complex relationship between Le Corbusier and Gray, and blur the lines between artistic intervention and architectural integrity. Some see it as vandalism, but these murals have become and remain a vital part of this residence. 

le corbusier e1027 mural 2
le corbusier mural e1027 bw
le corbusier e1027 mural 1

Analysis of Le Corbusier's Mural Artistry

Le Corbusier’s murals are a testament to his artistic prowess and his ability to combine various styles and techniques to create something unique. His murals can be found all over the world, and each one is a masterpiece in its own right.

One of the most striking features of Le Corbusier’s murals is their use of color. He often used bold, bright colors to create a sense of energy and vitality in his work. This can be seen in his murals at the Swiss Pavilion, where he used vibrant shades of blue and red to create a dynamic and visually stunning piece. The colors seem to reach out and grab you!

le corbusier mural 7
le corbusier mural cabanon 5

Le Corbusier Murals: Global Influence and Legacy

Overall, Le Corbusier’s murals and architectural designs have had a significant impact on the world of art and architecture. His legacy continues to inspire and influence artists and architects today, and his contributions to modern architecture will be remembered for generations to come. Let’s hope that they save the murals!

References:

  1. Le Corbusier’s mural for the Palace of the League of Nations (source: The Art Story)
  2. A mural depicting urban planning concepts in the Assembly Hall of the Chandigarh Capitol Complex in India (source: List of Le Corbusier buildings – Wikipedia)
  3. A colorful abstract mural on one of the walls of Unité d’Habitation in Marseille, France (source: Cabanon is one of 17 UNESCO heritage Le Corbusier buildings – Dezeen)
  4. A geometric mural in the Pilotis level of the Palace of the League of Nations (source: Lucien Hervé photographs of architecture and artworks by Le Corbusier)
  5. A colorful mural depicting plans for an ideal city on the walls of the Maison La Roche in Paris (source: [Road to World Heritage – Details – Le Corbusier](https://lecorbusier-worldheritage.org/en/road-to-world

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