Friday, September 22, 2017

Survey and AP Level Art History: Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (International Style of Architecture)


I want to start with a physical description of Le Corbusier’s most famous building. The building Villa Savoye was built originally in the country in a fairly isolated spot in nature. It was surrounded by a park-like environment that the architect, Le Corbusier, wanted to feature for the people who inhabited the building.

The building appears almost to be very simple and based on clean geometric lines with large strips of windows and a large undulating curvy structure atop the building. The building sits on a series of cylinders which serve as columns. It is made from fairly inexpensive simple materials such as, poured concrete, simple metal framed windows and appears to have no ornamentation or coloring on the exterior of the building.


If you look closer, under the building behind the cylindrical columns that Le Corbusier called piloti (his word for pylons or columns) there is an almost capsule shaped structure in the center of the building that contains a curved wall that is made entirely of windows and a door.

The way in which the building is up on these columns and the curved wall creates an overhang and a driveway in which a car could drive up to the building, dropped its passengers off, and then not be exposed to the elements such as rain as well as most of the wind.


The interior of the building is also very simple and some people would consider it bare.

On the first floor you can see that there are simple cylindrical columns that run directly into the ceiling. The first floor also has a series of ramps and steps that are also not decorated or adorned and are painted white. The floor is made of simple tile and the railings on the steps and the ramps are made of simple metal tubes that looked like pipes.

There is no real division between any of the spaces throughout the building especially on each floor. One could say that the building is three stories tall however the third story is a balcony type of affair that is placed almost on the roof and has a type of flow through space that begins on the second floor. This is very similar to how Frank Lloyd Wright conceived of space as well.

The second-floor is a large simple room that has a strip of glass windows with no ornamentation surrounding the windows on one side. Opposite the strip of windows is a large floor-to-ceiling window with a sliding glass door that leads onto the balcony. Although there is significant natural light entering the structure from these windows there are also built in hanging strip lighting which looks very similar to the fluorescent office lighting from today. It is encased in a simple cylindrical tube and connected to the ceiling by a series of simple cylindrical pipes. The floor is made of the same tile as the first floor but changes as it continues out onto the balcony.

The balcony on the second floor is surrounded by a series of walls with openings in them the same size and shape as the windows on the interior of the structure. Square and rectangular geometric planters are placed throughout the space. There is a ramp that leads to the roof of the structure that serves as a third story balcony. The ramp is also on adorned but has a simple railing of white tubular metal.

The roof of the structure contains a simple wall that has some curves built into it as well as a window shaped opening and as in the balcony on the second floor, it contains no glass but looks to be almost the same size and shape as many of the windows throughout the structure.

The description above describes a fairly on ornamented building that would be fairly inexpensive to build, although I suspect it was fairly expensive at the time, because it is made from almost “humble” building materials such as concrete, simple tiles, factory manufactured window frames and glass and pipe like tubing as handrails and ornamentation. This is fairly intentional because it addresses what Le Corbusier was attempting to do in his conception of what it building should be.

Here’s an analysis of the concepts that Le Corbusier used to design this building.
Le Corbusier conceived of the building as a type of country home in which the windows framed the environment on the exterior of the building almost as if the landscape outside were paintings. This is in keeping in some ways with some earlier concepts such as the Villa Rotunda by Palladio in the 16th century. Palladio conceived of his building as a place to go and enjoy nature and to this purpose he placed for patios or porticos (belvedere in Italian means "beautiful view") on the exterior the structure.

Le Corbusier uses windows to do this. However, Le Corbusier also wanted the inhabitants of the structure to be protected from the elements. This is why there are so many windbreaks on the patios. Also like another architect, but I think he came up with this separately, Le Corbusier shares what Frank Lloyd Wright believed in terms of placing the building within nature and having flow through space. Le Corbusier deviates from Frank Lloyd Wright in that he felt that the building did not need to integrate itself with nature the same way other buildings such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s building in bear run Pennsylvania called Falling Water.

In fact, Le Corbusier conceived of the building as a type of machine that people lived in, almost the way cells inhabit a human body. He also felt that the people who inhabited the structure needed to be protected from the elements and that is one of the reasons why he has the building set up on the columns and an automobile is able to drive up to the structure and discharge its passengers without the passengers really having to deal with the outside environment.

Part of this, comes from Le Corbusier’s ideas and appreciation of early century passenger ships that were more functional in some ways than concerned with form. Passenger ships from the early 1920s and 30s contained exposed pipes, pipe like railings as well as very simple on ornamented designs for things like portholes because the function was more important on a ship than the appearance. For Le Corbusier the appearance of the functional items was beautiful and he wanted to incorporate that into his architecture. If you think about it, Villa Savoye almost looks like an ocean liner in some ways.

Here’s a bit more about Le Corbusier’s career and context. In the previous section I suggest the ideas that Le Corbusier was attempting to create a sort of machine that human beings inhabited. Le Corbusier conceived of architecture in a different way than some of the architects from the previous centuries and this is probably because in the early 20th century artists and architects often established themselves by coming up with a new shocking vocabulary or style of art.

Le Corbusier felt that standardization and regular planning would save cities and buildings by organizing the spaces more effectively and efficiently. He felt it would aid in the cleanliness and health of the inhabitants and would be based more on the human experience however, this theory was not proven when some of his larger projects were created. He designed a series of complexes and they were executed however people didn’t care for them and many of them have been torn down.


The takeaways from this are, early 20th century architects often try to establish an entirely new theory or ideal of architecture. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes this wasn’t. In the case of Le Corbusier his conception of architecture was that it should be a building that human beings inhabited almost like organisms. He also was heavily influenced by mass manufacturing and ideas that rejected previous conceptions of architecture that would be highly ornamented or based on classical ideas. Le Corbusier seems to have had a type of romance with technology especially with automobiles. It also seems from his architecture that he felt almost as if nature or the irregularity and unpredictability of nature was something that the human being needed to be protected against. Unlike architects from the Baroque era who designed the gardens at her side, Le Corbusier did not feel that nature needed to be controlled but that humans needed to be encapsulated or isolated from it with controlled use of it.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

"The Last Judgment" St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, France West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE (AP and Survey Art History)



  • 315-750 (1300) CE Early Christian/Byzantine (some sources say the Byzantine style survived all the way to 1450) 
  • 800-1150  Romanesque 
  • 1150-1350 Gothic 

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The Romanesque style, according to Stokstad, means "in the Roman manner." In essence, it merely refers to the fact that many of the cathedrals built in this time period had the appearance of Roman architecture.
  • Tympanum: the surface enclosed by the arch and lintel of an arched doorway, frequently carved with relief sculptures.
  • Archivolt: the molding fram an arch. In Romanesque and Gothic architecture, each one of a series of arches framing the tympanum of a portal.
  • Lintel: a horizontal beam spanning an openings, as over a window or door, or between two posts.
  • Trumeau: doorpost supporting lintel.
  • Jamb: the side of a doorway or window frame. The jambs of the portals of Romanesque and Gothic churches are frequently decorated with figure sculpture.




 
St. Lazare, Autun Cathedral, Burgundy France 
West Portal, sculpted by Gislebertus c1130CE


Form: St. Lazare Cathedral. Romanesque.  This is a large relief carving that was originally painted.  The composition is symmetrical and organized using hieratic scale.  The picture plane is also organized according to horizontal bands each filled with figures that are pushed up against the front of the picture plane.  There is no creation of deep space in this relief sculpture.

According to the Brittanica,

Typically, the figure of Christ appears in the centre of the composition, dominant in size and usually enclosed in a mandorla (an oval, nimbus-like form). At his right and left are the four Evangelists, sometimes represented or accompanied by their animal symbols. To the sides, smaller figures of angels and demons weigh sins of the resurrected dead, who are ranked along the lowest and smallest section of the tympanum, directly above the lintel.

Iconography: What makes St. Lazare an interesting example of Romanesque architecture and art is the fact that the west portal, which depicts  a "sermon in stone," was originally painted. It is exceedingly well organized and stylized. This means that the figures represented in the relief sculpture are non naturalistic, this is akin to what one would see in Byzantine art. The figures relative size is based not on reality, but  on their spiritual importance. 

Jesus, as the central figure is shown impossibly huge the figures around him are depicting judgment, heaven and hell, and good and evil. The organization of the composition is designed so that all of the other figures relate in some way to the central figure of Jesus.  Figures who are to the right of Christ are literally on his good side while the figures to his left are not.  Likewise there is a hierarchy according to placement in the three bands.  The correlation between left and right (good and evil) does not exist in the topmost band.  Anything placed in the uppermost register of the composition is "good" or heavenly.

Around this interior depiction of a sermon one can see the various signs of the zodiac, which brings forth one of the main differences between the Romanesque and the Gothic style of art within a cathedral, in a Romanesque cathedral one can easily find depiction's of events and symbols that are not necessarily related to what is found in the bible. In a Gothic cathedral, by contrast, the emphasis is put mainly on biblical scenes, and scenes with Jesus in particular.

Context: In Romanesque art, the emphasis to the followers was teaching. The scenes shown in almost all of the artwork found at St. Lazare are intended to teach a morality lesson, tell a story, or establish a sort of religious iconography of good and evil. For example, almost everything in this piece is representative of something else. The arch above Jesus and the scene surrounding him is representative of heaven. The sinners are always found to the left of Jesus, and the believers to the right. Everything in Romanesque art and architecture is highly organized and made to to make it easy for the followers to read the meaning and the message that the church intends.

According to a former student, Maureen Lara, 
From first glance, one could already see the hierarchy established through the use of three separate levels as well as the scale involved in placing the relatively large sculpture of Jesus in the center enclosed in a glorifying mandorla.    (The topmost level is an exception in the hierarchy since it represents the heavens; the entire band consists of "good" people.  )  The symmetry of the art, to my perspective, expresses the way the world and one's fate after death revolves around how well one learns from and lives their lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

The art overall exhibits no deep space and is stylized rather than naturalistic.   Interestingly, the art is organized in such a way that the figures considered good and worthy of the kingdom of God are to Jesus' right and those who fail the last judgment because of sinfulness are to His left.   The smaller size of the figures in the bottom-most band indicates those who await their judgment before the Lord.   The sizes of the figures as well as their placement in the hierarchy are done in accordance to their religious importance.   This can be scene in St. Peter, who is said to be the gatekeeper of Heaven; he is larger in size than the other believers as well as the angels.   The main storyline of the scenes is centered around the battle between good and evil and triumph of one or the other during the weighing of souls after death.   The consequences of being good are illustrated, for instance, by the faithful children joyfully playing with angels to Jesus' right.   The rewards of goodness are also expressed by the graceful appearance of the angels, a persuasive element in the art that urges people to be righteous.

According to the Brittanica, 
Christianity, further developing the concept of the Last Judgment, teaches that it will occur at the Parousia (the Second Coming, or Second Advent, of Christ in glory), when all men will stand before a judging God. In early Christian art the scene is one of Christ the judge, the resurrection of the dead, the weighing of souls, the separation of the saved and the damned, and representations of paradise and hell. Romanesque artists produced a more terrible vision of the Last Judgment: Christ is shown as a stern judge, sometimes carrying a sword and surrounded by the four mystical beasts--eagle, lion, ox, and winged man--of the apocalypse; the contrast between paradise and hell is between the awesome and the ferocious. In the gentler, more humanistic art of the Gothic period, a beautiful Christ is shown as the Redeemer, his right side undraped to reveal the wound of the lance, and both wounded hands raised high in a gesture that emphasizes his sacrifice. He is surrounded by the instruments of his Passion--cross, nails, lance, and crown of thorns. The intercessors are restored, and the scene of the Judgment is treated with optimism. In the 16th century, Michelangelo produced a radically different version of the Last Judgment in his fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome (1533-41): a vengeful Christ, nude like a pagan god, gestures menacingly toward the damned.


The "elect" rising. 
According to Gardener's, "Art History" the figure at the bottom far right has a bag ornamented with a cross and a shell,  
symbols of pilgrims who have journeyed to Jerusalem  
and Santiago de Compostela. The iconography found on select parts of the tympanum clearly show what happens to the 'good' believers. The smaller figures beneath represent the righteous and the faithful, which includes the children, seen playing with an angel. The Angels are always depicted as elegant, benevolent, beautiful, and kind. This was to give the impression that heaven was a wonderful place, and would inspire the believers into being good and faithful servants of the church.
Peter and the elect

Here, on the right side of Jesus is St. Peter with the faithful. Note again how he depicted as larger than the followers, and even larger than the angels. This shows his relative importance in the spiritual hierarchy.

Pulled to judgment.

Though at first one would think this was a depiction of suffering, in truth its meant to show that after the death of this believer, the hands of an angel reach down to pull him heavenward, assuring that his soul has been saved.

The Judgment 
The Damned and the weighing of the souls

On the left side of Jesus is Evil, the Devil and his minions who are participating in the weighing of the souls. In this judgment scene, one can see the Devil and the Archangel Michael both taking part in the judgment. While it appears that the Devil is trying to pull the scale downward in order to be able to claim another soul, Michael appears to be attempting to lift the soul upward, in order to claim the soul for heaven. Though it is a small vignette, it illustrate rather succinctly the struggle of good and evil in the souls of mankind. Note how in contrast to the angel Michael, the Devil is portrayed as emaciated, grotesque, and as terrifying as the stone masons could portray. This was to remind the members of the church how awful hell was, and frighten them into submission. 


Paul makes a last attempt

Here, though it is technically the left, or 'bad' side of Jesus, We see St. Paul and the Angel make a last attempt to pull the damned souls to redemption. Hoping that through the call of the heavenly trumpet, man will be swayed to the side of God. 

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Sleeping Magi

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cumberland Hotel Memento, crayon on hotel stationary paper, approx 9x5 inches by Kenney Mencher



Monday, September 18, 2017

Brick House, crayon on cotton paper, 6x8 inches by Kenney Mencher



What’s important about Bonaventura Berlinghieri’s altarpiece depicting St. Francis?

What’s important about Bonaventura Berlinghieri’s altarpiece depicting St. Francis?

Probably the main idea why we study Bonaventura Berlinghieri’s is altarpiece is because it was created in a transitional time between the Gothic period of time and the early Renaissance. Because of its placement at a pivotal time and its subject matter, which is St. Francis of Assisi, in both sets the standards as well as represents the changes that occur both physically in terms of how things look and changes in thought during that period.

The physical qualities of altar painting from before 1300 or so in Europe are heavily influenced by a style that was developed in what we call the Byzantine Empire starting as early as the fourth century, especially in Greece and the region we know today as Turkey. There are many physical and visual characteristics that this altarpiece represents.

This altarpiece was probably made on a piece of recycled what or panel. Most likely, it was assembled from a series of older pieces of furniture or panels of what that had time to petrify, another term for “age.” The reason why very old wood was used is that it was more stable than new work or greener would because it contained less moisture and the wood becomes harder and more stable as it ages.
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The panel was then coated with a series of alternating layers of a glue referred to as “gesso,” which is basically boiled animal hide which creates a type of glue or binder. Affixed to the panel with this gesso was plaster and canvas. Plaster is made usually from calcium carbonate also referred to as marble dust, and has a brilliant white sheen to it which allows for a consistent smooth surface on top of the wood that the paint can adhered to without any kind of chemical interactions occurring.
The paint used on the surface of this panel was made out of a medium, a medium is literally a type of paint, called egg tempera. Egg tempera uses a combination of water, glue, and sometimes the egg whites or egg yolks to create a kind of binder that glues particles of pigment permanently to the surface of a panel painting. If you’ve ever tried to clean a plate that has dried egg on it, you’ll know why it makes a good medium.
The pigments, also referred to as colorants or dyes, were often made by grinding up minerals or semiprecious stones. Sometimes other substances such as dyes made from plant or vegetal matter would be used as color mixed with the medium of egg and glue.
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This type of medium, egg tempera, would then be applied in small patches or hatch marks, that would be layered over time to create shading, tone, and color.

Egg tempera was the primary type of color or medium used up until around 1400 when oil paint began to be used more often.

The physical size of this altarpiece is also part of why we study it. It’s a little bit taller than 5 feet and so the central figure, which represent St. Francis, is life-size for the time. The composition could be described as bilaterally symmetrical. Which means that the figures St. Francis is flanked by an equal number of scenes or images on either side of him making the overall image appear even or symmetrical. Furthermore, the composition is subdivided on either side of Francis with three smaller scenes in which he appears over and over again.
The way in which Francis and the scenes are painted is not very realistic or illusionistic. The anatomy of the figures is stiff and un–lifelike. We can recognize that these are people however, they are not standing in naturalistic poses such as the “contrapposto” pose that we saw in ancient Greece and Rome. The proportions of the figure are slightly elongated, and the proportions of the face are also stylized or incorrect according to today’s standards of realism.



The proportions of the face for all the figures, adheres to a type of style, or visual convention, that comes from the Byzantine style. Sometimes this is referred to as “maniera greca.” Roughly translated as “the Greek manner,” the proportions of the face in the maniera greca style are that the eyes are located a little too far up in the fore head, the nose is a little too long and ends too far down the face, and the mouth is located a little too far towards the bottom of the chin.

The scenes are not very realistic in terms of the illusion of space. The buildings and the figures sizes are not in proportion to one another. There is no illusion of space, there is no background behind the figures that would contain things like a horizon line, clouds, or a change in scale as things move further back. Today, we are used to something called linear perspective. This makes all of the parallel lines and straight lines on buildings makes sense to us, however, linear perspective was not used until 1400 and that’s why these buildings look odd. It is almost as if all of the figures are standing up against the front of the picture in a single line and the buildings, the small hill in one of the scenes, are not the right sizes when compared to the figures.



There is also no light and shadow, or shading, that describe the figures for the buildings in a realistic way. There are some tonal variations or shading variations however, these are almost cartoons of what light and shadow look like and this will change about 70 years later after this altar was completed.

The background of the altar and of the scenes on the left and right sides are made with thin sheets of gold glued onto the background and have very little or no variation in them.

All of these distortions, stylizations, and rendering are part of a consistent tradition that had lasted for nearly 1000 years until the 1300s.



Moving from physical description to an analysis of the content and meaning of this altar, it’s important to realize that the unrealistic way in which this was painted is part of its meaning. When Christianity, and specifically Catholicism, began to be organized and codified in the fourth century, eventually there was a controversy concerning the use of images because of the second commandment which states that, one should not worship idols or may graven images. Basically, what this means is that, Catholics believed that it was essentially wrong to make images of religious figures because of the idea that they might be worshiped as idols. This is referred to as the iconoclastic controversy. Eventually it was decided that the creation of “icons” and religious art was acceptable because it allowed people to learn from the imagery.

As the Roman Catholic Church became more powerful, and there was a call or a demand for religious imagery, a kind of cartoon style, the maniera greca, was chosen because it was not illusionistic and therefore not like the Greeks and Romans “pagan” style of art. Probably, also because it could be mistaken for something real.

The creation of religious art and religious icons such as this altarpiece, was then seen as a way of educating people about religion, and the religious figures one was supposed to emulate. By the time of St. Francis of Assisi, some social and economic changes began to occur. St. Francis represents many of these changes in the viewpoints of Catholics at this time and so this painting of him and the scenes of his life represent many of the concepts that the common important during the Renaissance.

For example, St. Francis to stands in the center of the painting, was important reformer of the Catholic Church. He is represented here with a haircut that’s called a monks tonsure. This style of cutting a religious person’s hair was meant as a way to make them humble because it was considered to be a less attractive hairstyle than a full head of hair. In this way it would humble people involved in the church, by making priests and monks less attractive. Part of this is probably because priests and monks at this time were supposed to be celibate.

St. Francis also holds a book which is very similar to the “book of the world” or “libris mundi” that is depicted in many representations of Jesus from the Byzantine Empire. He also has wounds on his hands and feet, called the “stigmata,” which were bestowed upon him by God in honor of his religious sacrifice and integrity. People who received the stigmata were thought to be blessed by God because the wounds were in emulation of the ones that Christ received on the cross.


Francis is represented wearing a simple robe, barefoot, and a Baroque belt with three knots in it.  This clothing represents the main ideas behind the order of Catholicism called the Franciscan order he began. The main tenets or concepts are poverty, chastity, and obedience. Francis is not wearing expensive clothing and this is part of the value system he believed in.

The life and times of St. Francis are depicted almost as if they are a comic book on his right and left hand sides. The various scenes represent important episodes in which Francis acted in a way that led him to a kind of spiritual enlightenment.

Here’s a summary of the main events that led to Francis becoming a monk. Francis was born into a fairly wealthy family when she left to go fight a crusade against heretics and infidels. At one point he was taken hostage or prisoner and while imprisoned he had visions and visitations by spiritual entities that instructed him that he should “rebuild God’s house.”

After Francis was freed, as he was returning home Francis gave away his cloak and other worldly possessions. He then proceeded to give away many of his father’s possessions all in emulation of the charity and non-materialism that Jesus espoused in the New Testament.

After he did this, Francis was given the right to start a new type of “order” in the Catholic Church now called the Franciscan Order.  The main concepts being, poverty chastity and obedience but more importantly a life given to acting or emulating Jesus Christ when he was on the earth. There are other stories after she becomes a monk in which he receives the stigmata from a type of angelic creature called the seraphim. We see this in the upper left-hand corner of the altarpiece. There are also other scenes of Francis is good works circulating around him one of most notable is his sermon to the animals in the garden in which she expressed the idea that while animals may not have a soul like humans have they are part of God’s creation and should be honored and should be aware of God.

The take away from all this, and why this altarpiece and St. Francis are particularly important is that this altarpiece represents a fusion of some of the traditional imagery and art styles from earlier periods with some new radical ideas concerning religious reform that Francis brought about. The most important being that Francis advocated that all people should live and behave in such a way that they are copying or living life in the way that Jesus would.



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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Survey and AP Level Art History: Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye (International Style of Architecture)


I want to start with a physical description of Le Corbusier’s most famous building. The building Villa Savoye was built originally in the country in a fairly isolated spot in nature. It was surrounded by a park-like environment that the architect, Le Corbusier, wanted to feature for the people who inhabited the building.

The building appears almost to be very simple and based on clean geometric lines with large strips of windows and a large undulating curvy structure atop the building. The building sits on a series of cylinders which serve as columns. It is made from fairly inexpensive simple materials such as, poured concrete, simple metal framed windows and appears to have no ornamentation or coloring on the exterior of the building.


If you look closer, under the building behind the cylindrical columns that Le Corbusier called piloti (his word for pylons or columns) there is an almost capsule shaped structure in the center of the building that contains a curved wall that is made entirely of windows and a door.

The way in which the building is up on these columns and the curved wall creates an overhang and a driveway in which a car could drive up to the building, dropped its passengers off, and then not be exposed to the elements such as rain as well as most of the wind.


The interior of the building is also very simple and some people would consider it bare.

On the first floor you can see that there are simple cylindrical columns that run directly into the ceiling. The first floor also has a series of ramps and steps that are also not decorated or adorned and are painted white. The floor is made of simple tile and the railings on the steps and the ramps are made of simple metal tubes that looked like pipes.

There is no real division between any of the spaces throughout the building especially on each floor. One could say that the building is three stories tall however the third story is a balcony type of affair that is placed almost on the roof and has a type of flow through space that begins on the second floor. This is very similar to how Frank Lloyd Wright conceived of space as well.

The second-floor is a large simple room that has a strip of glass windows with no ornamentation surrounding the windows on one side. Opposite the strip of windows is a large floor-to-ceiling window with a sliding glass door that leads onto the balcony. Although there is significant natural light entering the structure from these windows there are also built in hanging strip lighting which looks very similar to the fluorescent office lighting from today. It is encased in a simple cylindrical tube and connected to the ceiling by a series of simple cylindrical pipes. The floor is made of the same tile as the first floor but changes as it continues out onto the balcony.

The balcony on the second floor is surrounded by a series of walls with openings in them the same size and shape as the windows on the interior of the structure. Square and rectangular geometric planters are placed throughout the space. There is a ramp that leads to the roof of the structure that serves as a third story balcony. The ramp is also on adorned but has a simple railing of white tubular metal.

The roof of the structure contains a simple wall that has some curves built into it as well as a window shaped opening and as in the balcony on the second floor, it contains no glass but looks to be almost the same size and shape as many of the windows throughout the structure.

The description above describes a fairly on ornamented building that would be fairly inexpensive to build, although I suspect it was fairly expensive at the time, because it is made from almost “humble” building materials such as concrete, simple tiles, factory manufactured window frames and glass and pipe like tubing as handrails and ornamentation. This is fairly intentional because it addresses what Le Corbusier was attempting to do in his conception of what it building should be.

Here’s an analysis of the concepts that Le Corbusier used to design this building.
Le Corbusier conceived of the building as a type of country home in which the windows framed the environment on the exterior of the building almost as if the landscape outside were paintings. This is in keeping in some ways with some earlier concepts such as the Villa Rotunda by Palladio in the 16th century. Palladio conceived of his building as a place to go and enjoy nature and to this purpose he placed for patios or porticos (belvedere in Italian means "beautiful view") on the exterior the structure.

Le Corbusier uses windows to do this. However, Le Corbusier also wanted the inhabitants of the structure to be protected from the elements. This is why there are so many windbreaks on the patios. Also like another architect, but I think he came up with this separately, Le Corbusier shares what Frank Lloyd Wright believed in terms of placing the building within nature and having flow through space. Le Corbusier deviates from Frank Lloyd Wright in that he felt that the building did not need to integrate itself with nature the same way other buildings such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s building in bear run Pennsylvania called Falling Water.

In fact, Le Corbusier conceived of the building as a type of machine that people lived in, almost the way cells inhabit a human body. He also felt that the people who inhabited the structure needed to be protected from the elements and that is one of the reasons why he has the building set up on the columns and an automobile is able to drive up to the structure and discharge its passengers without the passengers really having to deal with the outside environment.

Part of this, comes from Le Corbusier’s ideas and appreciation of early century passenger ships that were more functional in some ways than concerned with form. Passenger ships from the early 1920s and 30s contained exposed pipes, pipe like railings as well as very simple on ornamented designs for things like portholes because the function was more important on a ship than the appearance. For Le Corbusier the appearance of the functional items was beautiful and he wanted to incorporate that into his architecture. If you think about it, Villa Savoye almost looks like an ocean liner in some ways.

Here’s a bit more about Le Corbusier’s career and context. In the previous section I suggest the ideas that Le Corbusier was attempting to create a sort of machine that human beings inhabited. Le Corbusier conceived of architecture in a different way than some of the architects from the previous centuries and this is probably because in the early 20th century artists and architects often established themselves by coming up with a new shocking vocabulary or style of art.

Le Corbusier felt that standardization and regular planning would save cities and buildings by organizing the spaces more effectively and efficiently. He felt it would aid in the cleanliness and health of the inhabitants and would be based more on the human experience however, this theory was not proven when some of his larger projects were created. He designed a series of complexes and they were executed however people didn’t care for them and many of them have been torn down.


The takeaways from this are, early 20th century architects often try to establish an entirely new theory or ideal of architecture. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes this wasn’t. In the case of Le Corbusier his conception of architecture was that it should be a building that human beings inhabited almost like organisms. He also was heavily influenced by mass manufacturing and ideas that rejected previous conceptions of architecture that would be highly ornamented or based on classical ideas. Le Corbusier seems to have had a type of romance with technology especially with automobiles. It also seems from his architecture that he felt almost as if nature or the irregularity and unpredictability of nature was something that the human being needed to be protected against. Unlike architects from the Baroque era who designed the gardens at her side, Le Corbusier did not feel that nature needed to be controlled but that humans needed to be encapsulated or isolated from it with controlled use of it.


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