Le Corbusier's seeing things: Ambiguity and illusion in the representation of modern architecture

1996 1996

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

In the twentieth century, more so than at any other time, media transformed architecture. No architect employed media as extensively and as consciously as did Le Corbusier in the conveyance of a modern architecture, an architecture that ostensibly privileged structure, function and material. Yet in his hands the very act of mediation served to transform architecture, de-materializing it, and eventually leading to an architecture of illusion. As a Purist painter, he believed the goal of art to be the evocation of an elevated sensation. He achieved this goal through mathematical regulation of the canvas and its contents. Such ordering resulted in ambiguous and illusory visual space, space that had a physiological effect on the viewer. He 'applied' this order to both his architecture and the image of his architecture. Photographs of buildings were made to conform to Purist vision, underscoring the illusion of representation and evoking in the 'reader' a sensation parallel to that of an ordered architecture. Such representation offered Le Corbusier new space, and he strove to translate this into a three-dimensional architecture by making representation itself into architecture. With his photo murals, photographs became walls. With his exhibition pavilions, publicity became facades. An architecture of illusion evolved which valued phenomenal sensation over the 'thing' itself. Such sensation became the essence of Le Corbusier's 1946 theory of architecture in which a synthesis of the arts would result in what he termed "ineffable space," the 'four-dimensional' equivalent of the sensation of illusion found in the Purist canvas. With illusion the basis of a new architecture, a dialectical relationship with material reality itself was established. In this way, representation served Le Corbusier not to record modern architecture, but to transform it, opening the door to an architecture antithetical to its principles.

Indexing (details)

Art History;
Mass media
0729: Architecture
0377: Art History
0708: Mass media
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Switzerland
Le Corbusier's seeing things: Ambiguity and illusion in the representation of modern architecture
Naegele, Daniel Joseph
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 57/07, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591019346, 0591019345
Rykwert, Joseph
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.