July 2, On This Day
Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now regarded as modern architecture – Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, was on July 2, 1964, named Grand Officier of the Légion d’honneur, the highest French order of merit, both military and civil.
In his five-decade career, he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America, while remaining dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities. Interestingly, Le Corbusier prepared the master plan for the city of Chandigarh in India, and contributed specific designs for several buildings there, especially the government buildings.
In fact, the largest of many Open Hand sculptures Le Corbusier created is a 26-meter-high (85 ft) version in Chandigarh, known as Open Hand Monument. This ‘La Main Ouverte’ is a recurring motif in his architecture, a sign for him of “peace and reconciliation. It is open to give and open to receive.”
There remains some controversy around Le Corbusier, with some of his urban planning ideas criticized for indifference to pre-existing cultural sites, societal expression and equity. His ties with fascism, antisemitism and dictator Benito Mussolini also resulted in contention.
What is less known about him, compared to his prolific architectural achievements, is that he as an artist himself, and with painter Amédée Ozenfant, had established a new artistic movement, Purism, which rejected Cubism as irrational and “romantic”.