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LE CORBUSIER & OSCAR NIEMEYER: INFLUENCES AND COUNTER INFLUENCES ON MODERN DESIGN

LE CORBUSIER & OSCAR NIEMEYER

BARCELONA
SIDE GALLERY
SEP 14 2018 - JAN 31 2019

Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1907. At age 23, he enrolled at the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio to study architecture where he graduated in 1934. Early on in his career he joined the office of the architect and town planner Lúcio Costa, one of the few modernists practicing in Brazil at that time. Costa invited the celebrated Swiss Modernist Le Corbusier to Rio in 1929 and then again in 1936. By the time of the second visit, Costa had promoted Niemeyer to the team formed to design a new ministry of education building. As a result, Niemeyer spent much time with Le Corbusier and was permanently influenced by his vision of a new architecture.
Bringing together two of the greatest architects of all times, Side Gallery navigated through time creating a dialogue between two masters of modern architecture. LE CORBUSIER & OSCAR NIEMEYER Influences and counter influences on modern design (1929-1965) opened in the fall of 2018 at Side Gallery, Barcelona.

Niemeyer swiftly learned to design according to Le Corbusier's five principles: full-width strip windows; rigid sun shading; roof gardens; pilotis; and most importantly, free-forming plans within a grid of columns. Taking this into account, Oscar added to these advantages a tremendous exploitation of free form, greater perhaps than that deployed by the master himself. As Le Corbusier observed years later: "From the outset Niemeyer knew how to give full freedom to the discoveries of modern architecture."

White concrete, graceful curves, and primary-colour accents are signature features of Oscar Niemeyer’s work. He designed numerous houses now considered masterworks of mid-century modernism with a magical combination of lusciousness and space, and some spectacularly high-rise houses and museums. He also played a major role in the design of the United Nations’ headquarters. His masterpiece though, is the great city of Brasilia, the capital city in the undeveloped center of Brazil whose layout was created by Costa but whose iconic architecture was all designed by Niemeyer. Created between 1956 and 1960, Brasilia is profoundly flawed, profoundly beautiful, and profoundly moving—a testament to an entire nation’s belief that the 20th century might truly create a utopian city and that modern architecture could serve as the symbol of Brazil to the world.

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, worldwide known as Le Corbusier, was born in Switzerland in 1887. Architect, urban planner, painter, writer, designer and theorist, his designs combine the functionalism of the modern movement with a bold, sculptural expressionism. He belonged to the first generation of the so-called International school of architecture and was their ablest propagandist with his numerous writings.

"Bringing together two of the greatest architects of all times, Side Gallery navigated through time creating a dialogue between two masters of modern architecture"


Le Corbusier placed systems of harmony and proportion at the center of his design philosophy. His faith in the mathematical order of the universe was closely bound to the golden section, which he explicitly used in his Modulor system for the scale of architectural proportion. After World War II, Le Corbusier sought efficient ways to house large numbers of people in response to the urban housing crisis believing that his new, modern architectural forms would provide an innovative solution that would raise the quality of life for the lower classes.

His visionary books, his startling white houses and his progressive urban plans set him at the head of the modern movement in the 1920s. From the beginning of his career until the very end, he was dedicated equally to thinking of space differently. Le Corbusier was one step ahead of his time: an innovator in several different niches, he has contributed to general development of modern architecture and design greatly. His work ranges through approximately 400 projects to 75 buildings in twelve countries. His most famous architectural works include the Villa Savoye, Unité d’Habitation, the Chapelle Notre Dame du Haut, in Ronchamp and the spectacular city of Chandigarh in India.

They were not exactly contemporizes, but the two architects delivered, within the space of less than a decade, two of the world’s architectural jewels. Le Corbusier and Oscar Niemeyer had a point of intersection in their careers that make them unique, they both designed an entire city from a drawing table: Le Corbusier bequeathed to humanity in 1951, the Indian Chandigarh; and Niemeyer, raised alongside Lúcio Costa, the capital of Brazil in 1960.

It is well known these enormous personalities had contributed greatly to modern architecture. Both in their own and unique way: one by using the curve line; the other by employing the straight angle. Whether one agrees or not with their principles or fume at them, their influence on contemporary architecture cannot be overemphasized.

Niemeyer was among the last of a long line of Modernist true believers who stretched from Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to the architects who defined the post-war architecture of the late 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Le Corbusier on the other hand, is well known as the founder of modern architecture and his important contributions cannot be overlooked. Working alongside each other, they have influenced one an other facing the world with a unique, unprecedented interchange of human values and a remarkable debate of ideas on a worldwide scale on the development of the Modern Movement. They revolutionized architecture by pioneering the invention of a new architectural language.