The exhibition ‘Mastering the Image’ is an ode to the legendary architect and planner, Le Corbusier
To understand smart urban planning, a trip to Chandigarh is enough. And the man behind creating this landmark city is Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, who went by the name of Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French architect and planner whose legacy in the field is one to reckon with.
Coming up this weekend is a show that demonstrates another side of this man, a man who liked to freeze moments. Photographs that demonstrate his exemplary works, including some taken by Corbusier himself will be on display. Françoise Gardies, senior cultural program manager for the Embassy of Switzerland, and the hand behind the curation of this upcoming show, tells us that this exhibition gives people an insight into the exemplary works of the man as an architect, and also the way he tactically used photography to promote his work, and himself. “Le Corbusier was a revolutionary to ‘think’ architecture, to ‘build’ architecture and to look at architecture as a way to provide ‘better life to people’. He knew the most renowned photographers of his time and used them strategically to promote his work. In addition, this exhibition showcases the rare photographs captured by Le Corbusier himself, which were not developed until 2012,” she says.
On display are about 150 photographs that take us through different phases of the architect’s life. “One would find three chapters of Le Corbusier’s life in this exhibition — ‘the portraits of life’, ‘the contemporary approach’ and ‘the secret photographer’. Interestingly, he knew he was very photogenic and used it very cleverly to his advantage. And he knew the right people to be photographed with. The pictures reveal how he would dress according to the personalities he’s photographed with. For example, he’d be in crisp formal attire with Andre Malraux (The French Minister of Culture during his time), completely casual with Picasso and extremely elegant with Josephine Baker (American-born French dancer),” she adds.
On the curation process, Gardies explains that this show is an adaptation of the exhibition on the work of Le Corbusier at the Museum of Fine Arts of La Chaux-de-Fonds (Le Corbusier’s birthplace in Switzerland). “We conceived this exhibition in India along with the assistant curator of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Sophie Vanthiegem. Almost everything except two chapters are not included in this adaptation, which, obviously, were too big to be part of a travelling exhibition,” she says.
While planning this exhibition in India, the team was focused on including the excellent work of Le Corbusier in India, particularly, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, named The Indian Dream. “His contributions to making Chandigarh one of the best smart cities in India is well captured in this exhibition. We were also keen on displaying the photographs in an interesting ‘cloud’ (cluster) format,” she says, adding, “Le Corbusier certainly knew the art of ‘Mastering the Image’, as the title of this exhibition suggests!”
Till April 23. At NGMA, Manikyavelu Mansion. 10 am-5 pm (closed on Mondays).
— Priyadarshini Nandy