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Le Corbusier: Secret Photographer [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Tim Benton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 33.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

28 Jun 2013
In Le Corbusier: Secret Photographer Tim Benton reflects on the famous architect's use of photography, starting with the young Charles-Edouard Jeanneret's attempts to take professional photographs during his travels in central Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. While Le Corbusier always claimed that he saw no virtue in taking photographs, he actually bought three cameras and took several hundred photographs between 1907 and 1917, many of them of publishable quality. In 1936 he acquired a 16mm movie camera and took 120 sequences of film and nearly 6,000 photographs with it. This completely unknown body of material is the basis for the publication. It reveals Le Corbusier to be a sensitive and brilliant manipulator of a range of photographic styles. Le Corbusier: Secret Photographer provides dramatically new insights into Le Corbusier's visual imagination, his changing attitudes towards nature and materials in the 1930s, and his distrust of progress.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Lars Muller Publishers (28 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 3037783443
  • ISBN-13: 978-3037783443
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 24.4 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 866,787 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Tim Benton, born in Rome in 1945, was educated at Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art, London. He taught for forty years at the Open University England and is currently professor emeritus in the history of art.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Le Corbusier's visual notes 27 Sep 2013
By Robin Benson TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
Tim Benton has written an exhaustive overview of Le Corbusier's photography though as he says in the introduction Giuliano Gresleri's 1985 book reproduces six hundred photos when he found the negatives and contact prints in a library at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Benton's book has some overlap with Gresleri's but really considers different aspects of Jeanneret's creativity.

The book is in two parts: Jeanneret's photos from 1907 to 1919 and the second part looking at Le Corbusier's photography and short movies during 1936 to 1938. In the first section Benton suggests that Jeanneret made serious attempts to take professional architectural photos but by 1911 gave up on this idea and used his camera to take visual notes. He took hundreds of these though very few were published. The pages reproduce many of these as large thumbnails (and there are colour photos of the types of camera Jeanneret used and tables of technical detail about the models). Benton makes the point that to understand the photos you have to be aware of how these cameras functioned. The second part looks at Le Corbusier's more ambitious photo and movie output, he used a Siemens B 16mm for movies. You can see seven montages of this work accessible through QR patches placed at the start of several portfolio sections in the book.

Many of the thumbnails in the text are reproduced much larger in the thirteen portfolios of photos that follow each chapter. The earlier of those mostly feature architecture and landscapes. From 1936 they feature Le Corbusier's family, Europe and various trips overseas. The longest portfolio is forty-two pages of photos taken on the SS Conte Biancamano in August 1936 and rather than photograph passengers he concentrated of the ships machinery.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A complex and paradoxical character 29 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As `Corb' he is generally regarded by the architectural fraternity - with varying degrees of awe and affection - as the pre-eminent architect of the 20th century and author of many of the century's defining masterpieces. On the other hand, as `Le Corboosier', he was detested by Frank Lloyd Wright and subsequently vilified in the popular media as the malign influence behind a plethora of grandiose and `inhuman' plans imposed on cities from Sheffield to St Louis. On the evidence of this book, he turns out to have been an even more complex and paradoxical character than was previously imagined.

Fresh out of Art School in his home town of La Chaux de Fonds, where he had trained as an engraver of watch-cases, he set off on his travels with the cheapest Kodak camera available. Thus the first of a series of 13 `albums' reproduced here includes intriguing shots of Khmer reliefs, the Ca d'Oro in Venice, a Buddha, the Jura mountains, Prague old town, and a rain-swept street in Munich as `Venetian canal'. However, as he was to claim much later in life:

"I bought myself a little Kodak camera, which Kodak sold for six francs in order to sell film to those idiots who use it, and I was one of them, and I noticed that by entrusting my emotions to a lens I was forgetting to have them pass by me - which was serious. So I abandoned the Kodak and picked up my pencil, and ever since then I have always drawn everything, wherever I am."

Thus an existential dilemma which appears to have plagued him until 1938 when he abandoned photography altogether; devoting the last 27 years of his life to painting - in the mornings as `Jeanneret' - and, in the afternoons, to architecture under his better-known pseudonym.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Le Corbusier's visual notes 27 Sep 2013
By Robin Benson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Tim Benton has written an exhaustive overview of Le Corbusier's photography though as he says in the introduction Giuliano Gresleri's 1985 book reproduces six hundred photos when he found the negatives and contact prints in a library at La Chaux-de-Fonds. Benton's book has some overlap with Gresleri's but really considers different aspects of Jeanneret's creativity.

The book is in two parts: Jeanneret's photos from 1907 to 1919 and the second part looking at Le Corbusier's photography and short movies during 1936 to 1938. In the first section Benton suggests that Jeanneret made serious attempts to take professional architectural photos but by 1911 gave up on this idea and used his camera to take visual notes. He took hundreds of these though very few were published. The pages reproduce many of these as large thumbnails (and there are color photos of the types of camera Jeanneret used and tables of technical detail about the models). Benton makes the point that to understand the photos you have to be aware of how these cameras functioned. The second part looks at Le Corbusier's more ambitious photo and movie output, he used a Siemens B 16mm for movies. You can see seven montages of this work accessible through QR patches placed at the start of several portfolio sections in the book.

Many of the thumbnails in the text are reproduced much larger in the thirteen portfolios of photos that follow each chapter. The earlier of those mostly feature architecture and landscapes. From 1936 they feature Le Corbusier's family, Europe and various trips overseas. The longest portfolio is forty-two pages of photos taken on the SS Conte Biancamano in August 1936 and rather than photograph passengers he concentrated of the ships machinery.

I thought it slightly unfortunate that all the portfolio sections (they take up half the book) are printed on black pages which overpowers the photos. So many of them are grainy and with subdued tonal quality. The thumbnail versions, printed on white paper, have much more sparkle.

I thought Benton's final chapter: Conclusions raised some interesting points. On page 403 he asks why take these photos seriously because they are mostly of mediocre quality. His explanation is that Le Corbusier used photography as a memoir of his personal and professional life and they offer a look at his psychology. Despite taking may hundreds of photos (and short movies) over his lifetime he preferred to regard them no more than visual notes and this explains why this aspect of his creativity is little known rather than his towering genius as an architect.

*The book is landscape size: 9.5 by 6.5 inches.
4.0 out of 5 stars for LC afficionados... 18 Feb 2014
By estudio.imf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very interesting, engaging book of images and text for another look at Le Corbusier. Those interested in his paintings will find this book enjoyable as well.
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