How did the emerging modern movement in architecture find a way of incorporating aesthetic value into its functional, social and structural programme? One answer is to look at the ways that modern architecture was intimately connected with avant garde art. The relationship between art works and architecture was not always easy. If the artist’s studios created by André Lurcat and Le Corbusier and Jeanneret in the early 1920s usually allowed for a unity of aesthetic between artist and architect, the placing of works of art in modern buildings created difficulties. The La Roche villa is a case in point. Built to house a unique collection of Cubist and Purist paintings, Le Corbusier was indignant at the insertion of too many of the paintings on the walls. He insisted that parts of the architecture should be left completely clear of paintings, in order to create their own aesthetic. My argument continues, however, to demonstrate that there is, nevertheless, a clear similarity between the genetic process of the Purist painting (the way it begins with realistic representations of real world objects – the production of mechanical and popular selection – and ends in a ‘contour of forms’ in which the figure-ground relationships are lost in an overall play of form and colour. I suggest that the design of the Villa La Roche marked a similar abrupt loss of semantic identity between forms and functions, through a process of displacement of functions, to create a poetic symbolism of forms and meanings.
(Resumen de la conferencia que impartirá Tim Benton el próximo jueves 7 de abril de 2011)