Corbu, Paris and Pinceau

Corbusier, his wife, Yvonne, and their dog, Pinceau (Paintbrush). (pinterest.com)

Corbusier, his wife, Yvonne, and their dog, Pinceau (Paintbrush). (pinterest.com)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Le Corbusier, founding villain of modern architecture and to this day still its leading hero. He died in a swimming accident off the Mediterranean coast where he had vandalized the seaside villa of his friend, Eileen Gray, who severed their friendship when she found out. Corbu’s life was sinister and his work was ugly. He submitted a plan to destroy central Paris that Parisians rejected, bless their hearts. In World War II he held a post in the Nazi puppet government at Vichy, in occupied France, where he submitted a plan to destroy Algiers. All heartless, brainless experimentation on the housing of the poor in beastly towers with minimal amenities may be traced back to Corbusier. He was the father of the worst aspects of urban renewal. When his schnauzer, Pinceau, died, he used the dog’s skin to bind his copy of Don Quixote.

Here is a grim passage from Le Corbusier, by Nicholas Fox Weber:

After Pinceau died, Le Corbusier, at great expense, had the dog’s body skinned and tanned. He also had his skull preserved, with a spring mechanism in the jaw. The services were provided by “naturalists” with offices a short walk from Le Corbusier’s old digs on the rue Jacob. This was probably the skin used to cover his old copy of Don Quixote – extant to this day – but what he did with the skull is unknown.

What a man. RIP.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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