Le Corbusier and the use of Colour

Le Corbusier und die Farbe. Foto: Pavillon Le Corbusier, Zürich

The exhibition is dedicated to Le Corbusier’s (1887-1965) handling of colour. He used colour as a spatially formative, iconic element in every phase of his career.

The exhibition retraces the development of his polychromy with photographs, originals, plans, and large-format installations.

These are supplemented by three large-format installations that offer visitors a deeply sensual experience of colour. Polychromy.

Le Corbusier made colour an integral part of his architectural concept and developed what he called “colour keyboards” or claviers de couleurs to match.

Le Corbusier explained the theoretical underpinning of his “Purist”  polychromy in his legendary Zurich lecture of 1938. Colour took on a new significance in his work after World War II.

Henceforth it would serve him as a means of animating large surfaces, becoming, in the broadest sense, an ornament. The architect began using bolder hues in conjunction with untreated materials such as concrete, brick, and wood.

He further broadened the scope of polychromy in architecture by exploring the color of light, whether by means of coloured glass, as in the chapel at Ronchamp (1955), or by projecting coloured light into an interior, as in the Philips Pavilion for Expo 58 in Brussels.

The lower level of the Pavillon retraces the creative use of colour in his oeuvre and the various phases it went through. It starts with his first experiments in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the famous villas of the 1920s and moves on to the large developments of later years such as the Unité d’habitation in Marseille.