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.