Le Corbusier, one of the most important figures of modern architecture, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds 125 years ago. To celebrate its famous native, the watchmaking city in the Swiss Jura is organizing a series of landmark events.

World Radio Switzerland commissioned a program on 9 October 2012 that was presented during The National (see below).

The same day, on The Wrap, hosted by Alex Helmick, I gave the following account:
Arts.ch on Le Corbusier

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Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Self-portrait taken with a 16mm camera © FLC Paris/ProLitteris

He is a mythical figure of modern architecture whose portrait is universally recognized, with his hallmark black-rimmed glasses and signature bow tie.

Le Corbusier is widely regarded – for better, or for worse – as the father of modern architecture. He was also one of the most productive artists of the last century: he spent as much time producing drawings, paintings and sculptures, and writing books, as he did transforming the concept of urban living with his high-density apartment blocks.

To do him justice on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth, La Chaux-ds-Fonds is putting on a series of events.

I met with Anouk Hellman who orchestrated the celebration to ask her what to look out for:

Interview Anouk Hellman

Although a lot of the inhabitants of La Chaux-de-Fonds are contributing to the celebration, what I also found out, quite surprisingly, is that many of them are discovering Le Corbusier themselves.

Yannick Zurcher is organizing one of the satellite events, an exhibition of extraordinarily beautiful photographs taken of Le Corbusier’s buildings by Lucien Hervé.

But why was the theme of photography chosen to celebrate Le Corbusier, I asked Sophie Vantieghem, the curatorial assistant of the main exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum.

Interview Sophie Vantieghem

Now the celebration is also a great excuse to discover the city itself by walking to all the places identified with Le Corbusier, including the first two houses that he built.

You’ll come away with a better understanding of the iconic, yet mysterious Le Corbusier,

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Anonymous, Le Corbusier in front of one of the murals he painted for the villa of Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, circa 1938-40 © FLC Paris/ProLitteris

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Anonymous, Le Corbusier with his wife Yvonne and their dog, Pinceau. Circa 1930 © FLC Paris/ProLitteris

Le Corbusier und Pierre Jeanneret, Pavillon, Paris, 1930-33

Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, the Swiss Pavillion, Cité Internationale universitaire, Paris, 1929-1933. Outside view with Le Corbusier’s car © FLC Paris/ProLitteris

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Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, aka Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Habiter, a panel exposed at the Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux, Paris, 1937. Reconstituted on a 1:2 scale by Arthur Rüegg, published by Publigraph, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Le Corbusier and his wife appear on the left.

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, trained as a journalist, became an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London before moving to Switzerland, where she now covers the art beat and presides several associations.

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