Le Poème de l’Angle Droit (1955)
The right angle was a recurring and important philosophical theme in Le Corbusier’s architecture and art throughout his career. It has been said that he discovered the importance of the right angle whilst studying Michelangelo’s Capital in Rome but, be that as it may, he often used the right angle as a major component in his use of proportions in architecture, for example in the villa at Garches (1927). However his philosophical poem and set of lithographs Le Poème de l’Angle Droit was, in the words of his biographer Kenneth Frampton, . . . executed as a seven part sequence over a seven year period from 1947 to 1953, and structured after the format of the Eastern Orthodox iconostasis, the traditional screen of icons separating the altar from the nave that serves as a veil between the congregation and the celebrants of the Eucharist (see Le Corbusier, Kenneth Frampton, 2001, p. 209). In outline and based upon Frampton’s detailed analysis Le Corbusier’s overall scheme consisted of seven rows of
iconic squares with each row having a different number of images, namely 5,3,5,1,3,1 and 1. Each row in turn related to the first seven letters of the alphabet, each with a different theme and colour as follows: A - environment - green. B - spirit/mind - blue. C - flesh - violet. D - fusion - red. E - character - clear. F - offering - yellow. G - instrumentality - purple. Le Corbusier’s philosophy of the right angle was quite complex and readers wishing for a detailed explanation are referred to Kenneth Frampton’s book (see pp. 209-213). The final square in row G shows the right angle drawn by Le Corbusier’s hand and in Frampton’s words . . . is the ultimate representation of the right angle, as an intersection of two opposed conditions, the horizontal and the vertical . . . depicted as a prerequisite for the creation of a rational new condition, existing in harmony with the surrounding natural world.
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Original signed and numbered lithographs by architect, designer and artist Le Corbusier. Available from Goldmark Gallery.