Expanded Architectures, Transatlantic Misencounters: Intermedial Circulations of Le Corbusier in Spain and Latin America.

Syllabus

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Between 1928 and 1929 Le Corbusier traveled to Spain and Latin America for the first time. Despite the scarcity of his built works, he was already by then an undisputed emblem of modern architecture. His extraordinarily influential ideas had been avidly incorporated and reproduced by many authors with the desire to be identified as “Modern”. Not only architects but also painters or writers saw in the Swiss icon the incarnation of the Avant-Garde. The mutual contact between le Corbusier and the South was, nevertheless, far from a harmonic dialogue between different models of modernity across the Atlantic. Instead, prospects became dynamic misencounters with both sides systematically failing to fulfill each other’s expectations.

Le Corbusier was being accused in Europe of an excess of modernity by the establishment that had just rejected his ambitious project for the Society of Nations. Conversely, influential German Avant-Garde architects were criticizing him for bourgeois and reactionary tendencies. Le Corbusier travels to the South in search of, not only new markets for his work, but also for new sources of legitimacy. There, he still was, or at least he thought he was, undisputedly “Modern”.

Quite often, in Spain and Latin America his lectures were not sponsored by Architecture Institutions but rather by groups with wider artistic and pedagogic interests. It was thus that, after his first contacts in Paris with Latin American figures such as Tarsila do Amaral or Vicente Hidobro, Le Corbusier got in contact with the artists and intellectuals around Victoria Ocampo’s Amigos del Arte in Argentina, the environment of the Residencia de estudiantes in Spain including names such as Dalí , Lorca or Moreno Villa or the Anthropophagic Movement in Brazil.

This course traces those intermedial and geographic transits of Le Corbusier’s ideas and images as a privileged field to questions transatlantic circulations of the Avant-Garde but also as a space of  “Expanded architecture” in which spatial ideas were transferred from urbanism, architecture and design to literature and the visual arts.

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