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Le Corbusier
(1887-1965)

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Le Corbusier was the professional name of Charles Édouard Jeanneret, a Swiss-French architect, painter, and writer, who had a major effect on the development of modern architecture. 

Switzerland 1972. Architecture. Le Corbusier. Portrait.

Born on October 6, 1887, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, he received an early art education there, then studied modern building construction under Auguste Perret in Paris. Later he spent brief periods working with the German architect Josef Hoffmann. 

In 1922 he went into partnership in Paris as an architect with his cousin, the engineer Pierre Jeanneret, and adopted his mother's maiden name, Le Corbusier. 

  • Switzerland 1972.  Le Corbusier. 

While practicing as an architect, Le Corbusier was also active as a painter and writer. In his painting he was associated with Amédée Ozenfant in the school of purism, one of a number of movements that grew out of cubism. In 1920 he founded with Ozenfant the review L'Esprit Nouveau (The New Spirit), for which he wrote numerous articles to support his theories on architecture; these theories were developed from 1920 to 1925 and culminated in his concept of the ideal house as “a machine for living.” Essentially a functionalist, he broke with the forms and design of historic styles, and sought a new 20th-century style to be based on engineering achievements in bridge building and steamship construction; on modern materials such as ferroconcrete, sheet glass, and synthetics; and on contemporary needs such as town planning and housing projects. His work did much to bring about general acceptance of the now-common international style of low-lying, unadorned buildings that depend for aesthetic effect on simplicity of forms and relation to function.

His most famous buildings include a prize-winning design for the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva (1927-1928); the Swiss Building at the Cité Universitaire, Paris (1931-1932); Unité d'Habitation (1946-1952), an apartment house in Marseille, France; Notre-Dame-du-Haut (1950-1955), a pilgrim church in Ronchamp, France; and the High Court Buildings (1952-1956) in Chandigarh, India, part of his plan for the entire city. 

France 1963. Architecture. Le Corbusier. Chapelle de notre-Dame Du Haut - Ronchamp. France 1987. Architecture. Le Corbusier. 100th Birth  Anniversary. Monaco 1987. Architecture. Le Corbusier. Chapelle de Ronchamp.

 

Among his most famous projects were the Palace of the League of Nations, Geneva, and the planning of the permanent buildings for the United Nations in New York City; the Secretariat, a tall, glass-sided slab is primarily of his design. 
  • United Nations 1991.  United Nations' Headquarters, New York.  The stamp is engraved by Czeslaw Slania, as one of his masterpieces.  

United Nations 1991. Architecture. Le Corbusier. United Nations' Headquarters, New York.

On 30th December 2002 Switzerland issued a set of three definitive stamps, showing classical Swiss design, and one of which depicted Le Corbusier's armchair "Le Fauteuil Grand Confort".  In 1928, Le Corbusier designed a programme of tubular steel furniture, including the "Le Fauteuil Grand Confort" armchair.  The compact cube of the steel-tube frame and the tectonic form of the seat and arm upholstery give the armchair its unique charm.  Like many other types of tubular steel furniture, it was withdrawn from production at the end of the 1930s.  It was not until the 1950s that new versions came on the market, like, for instance, the once produced by interior designer, Heidi Weber.  

Switzerland 2003. Architecture. Le Corbusier. Armchair.

The chair is still made today and is regarded as a status symbol of luxurious living.  

However, this stamp was very short lived.  After only 3 months, on March 30th, 2004 the Swiss Post decided to retrieve all "Le Corbusier" stamps issued in the "design classics" series on December 30th, 2003.  

  • Switzerland 2003.  Le Corbusier's armchair.  Scanned from Swiss Post Magazine "Focus on Stamps" No. 1/2004.

It was replaced by a new CHF 1,00 Swiss Definitive stamp showing the "Landi" chair, by Hans Corey, on 31.3.2004.  Press information on the website of Swiss Post published on March 26th, 2004, states:  

A new postage stamp of 1 franc
At the end of the month, the Swiss Post office will replace the stamp featuring the armchair of Corbusier by a stamp devoted to the Landi chair.  We made this decision because of the retroactive royalties which were due and which we do not intend to pay in the long run. 
  
At the beginning of the year, the Swiss Post office launched a series of stamps dedicated to the Swiss design:  a stamp of 1 franc with the "Armchair of Great Comfort" by le Corbusier, a stamp of 85 centimes representing the "station clock" created in 1944 and one stamp of 15 centimes reproducing a  "Rex potato peeler" conceived in 1947.  

The Corbusier stamps will not be marketed as of  March 31, 2004.  Those which are already in circulation will remain however valid without restriction. 

Le Corbusier's writings include "Vers une architecture" (Towards a New Architecture, 1927); "La maison des hommes" (The Home of Man, 1942); and Quand les cathédrales étaient blanches (When the Cathedrals Were White, 1947).  Le Corbusier died at Cap-Martin, France, on August 27, 1965. 

At least one more stamp, commemorating Le Corbusier, exists.  In its issue of 2000, November 20, the Belgian Post Office released the series "A Tour of the 20th Century in 80 Stamps". Series 2. War, Peace and Art.  It includes a stamp of 17 BEF and 0,42.of Margritte by Le Corbusier.  

Sources and links:  

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