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Pompidou responds to criticism that Le Corbusier exhibition glosses over architect’s fascist past

Although show focuses on his work, a research project will be launched on his life and beliefs

by Anny Shaw  |  30 April 2015
Pompidou responds to criticism that Le Corbusier exhibition glosses over architect’s fascist past
André Rogi, Le Corbusier, CA. 1937 © Centre Pompidou, G. Meguerditchian
The Pompidou Centre in Paris has hit back at critics who say its Le Corbusier exhibition, which opened to the public yesterday, 29 April, glosses over recent accusations that the Swiss-born French architect was a militant fascist with links to the Vichy regime.

According to France 24, at the press opening of Le Corbusier: Measures of Man, the curators Olivier Cinqualbre and Frédéric Migayrou dismissed several recently published books, which reveal Le Corbusier's anti-Semitic views, as “tabloid publications”.

A spokeswoman for the Pompidou says the exhibition does not refer to Le Corbusier’s fascist past because “it’s about the proportions of the human body, which are present in his architecture and painting. Olivier Cinqualbre and Frédéric Migayrou worked on this project for three years and didn’t consider this debate because the subject [of fascism] was broached in a 1987 exhibition.”

Although the current show does not specifically address Le Corbusier’s politics, the Pompidou and the Le Corbusier Foundation announced on 28 April that they are launching a research project that will focus on the architect’s life and beliefs during the 1930s and Second World War. The findings will be presented in a major symposium next year. “[Failing to mention the controversy] is definitely not our official position,” says a spokesman for the Pompidou.

The recent publication of three books: Le Corbusier, a French Fascism by Xavier de Jarcy; Un Corbusier by François Chaslin; and Le Corbusier, une froide vision du monde (a cold view of the world) by Marc Perelman has thrown a spotlight on a murky period of Le Corbusier’s life. It has long been known that the architect initially welcomed France’s Vichy regime during the German occupation, but the extent of his anti-Semitism—as claimed in the books—is threatening to overshadow events marking the 50th anniversary of Le Corbusier’s death this year, as well as his legacy.

De Jarcy describes Le Corbusier as “an out-and-out fascist” who wrote to his mother in August 1940 that Jews and freemasons would “feel just law”, while Chaslin says he discovered “anti-Semitic sketches” attributed to Le Corbusier.

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