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.
Two 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?
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.