“Two Lesbians,” by Corbusier

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I have just started a book, newly published, that I’ve been awaiting for ages: Le Corbusier: The Dishonest Architect, by Malcolm Millais. It is a critique of Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier, or Corbu. One of Millais’s earlier books, Exploding the Myths of Modern Architecture (2009), was praised to the skies by Andrés Duany, the author, among many other things, of the forward to my book Lost Providence.

But enough of mutual admiration societies. What about lesbians?

Well, I was cruising again through this excellent book (I read it in manuscript form a year or two ago) and came across some material I don’t recall seeing the first time around. (By the way, this is a family blog, so those under 18 should have averted their eyes by now.) The passage, on page 26, reads:

While lurching from financial crisis to financial crisis and before becoming a Purist, Edouard had continued to paint. Voluptuous nude women had entered his pictures in 1912, “Nude with Tulip,” “Two Naked Women Lying Down,” and the openly erotic “Two Lesbians.” This all changed with Purism in 1918, and it was whilst he was doing his first Purist painting that Edouard went blind in his left eye.

Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 1.15.18 PM.pngTwo lesbians! Whoa! I have a sketch, or maybe it is a painting, of two lesbians – or at least so they seem to be – in our smallest room on the first floor of our house, hung along with two milder sketches by one of my favorites, Heinrich Kley. You can see all three at the top of my post. I got them from my father, who had them hanging in the first-floor bathroom of the house where I grew up in Washington, D.C.

My two lesbians are not only figurative but the draftsmanship is far superior to what Corbusier was known to produce. Still, is my print the one by Corbusier? I doubt that. He is not exactly known for his representational work! But judging by the image below left, which is known to be by Corbusier, it could be. Look at the faces! But it is definitely a sketch, not a painting, so presumably it is not the one referred to above by Millais. Besides, it is dated circa 1926, well past the period that might have produced the print on my wall. Millais describes “Two Lesbians” as hailing from before Corbusier’s Purist work. Yet, you never know, do you, about those stray works of art?

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So if anyone can identify the picture just above to the left, I’d love to know whether I have reason to purge my WC art. Kidding. The work below, also by Corbusier, appears to be a painting from a later period that, I imagine, shows the influence of his Purism.

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About David Brussat

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. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am 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 employ my writing and editing to improve your work, 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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10 Responses to “Two Lesbians,” by Corbusier

  1. Pingback: NB: Corbu’s Villa d’Orgie | Architecture Here and There

  2. A Subscriber says:

    They’re just two females doing ‘The Bump’. Anybody remember that dance? Wasn’t that right after ‘The Hustle’? And who says they’re lesbians, anyway? Some people let their imaginations get carried away, sometimes. Jeez.


  3. You have a wonderful find! Aristide Maillol is the artist! Here is a link: http://www.mchampetier.com/biografia-Aristide-Maillol.html# As you know my involvement with auctions, etc., this piece, if original, could be valuable…is it signed? is it an original or a print? C’est magnifique!


  4. sethweine says:

    Dear David,
    It doesn’t have to be exactly the same drawing that Millais refers to: as you know, when an artist is sketching from a model—or, in this case, models—they often make multiple drawings of the same subject (often during the same drawing session). So, if your drawing is by Corb, it might be another drawing from the same session.
    If Millais refers to that drawing, so perhaps he’s seen it, or a repro of it? — or he knows of the collection/gallery/archive that holds it?
    So Millais himself might be able to comment on the similarity of your drawing to the one he refers to. OR: If the one he refers to is in a collection or gallery, the proprietors of that organization could comment on the similarity of yours.
    By-the-way: I’m envious that you have some original Kley’s. Wow!
    Seth Joseph Weine


    • No, Seth, they are prints. Bakatcha when I have a real keyboard. David

      Sent from my iPod



    • A friend says it is by Aristide Maillol, a French sculptor (mainly) from Paris born just after the middle of the century. I wish my Kleys were originals. I am not absolutely sure that my Maillol is not – but I doubt my dad would have had an original, bless his heart.


    • Actually, Malcolm has sent an image of the actual “Two Lesbians.” He kept it out of his book as “too rude.” But I will try to post it here. … I guess I can’t put it here. I will email it to you.


  5. geolloydblog says:

    highly UNlikely that th 2 LESBIAN drawing would be by CORBU –it does have look of drawing by sculptor A MAILLOL however


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