Professor Tim Benton (Open University, Art History (Emeritus))
Did Le Corbusier have a 'photographer's eye'? There are many reasons to doubt it. He always claimed that photography was for lazy people, that taking a photograph was allowing the image to pass from the real world to the negative without intelligent analysis. Understanding, he insisted, requires the artist's pencil. Nevertheless, he took many thousands of photographs, between 1936 and 1938, which have only recently come to light. How can we classify these? Some of them imitate images he had already drawn and painted. Others are of subjects quite new to his iconography. Some of them adopt the mannerisms of the 'neue fotographie' of the 1920s. Many of them prefigure the photographic approach of the Hungarian photographer, Lucien Hervé, whom le Corbusier chose, twelve years later, as his official photographer. My aim is to bring all this together in an assessment of an unknown aspect of Le Corbusier's visual imagination.
Tim Benton is Professor of Art History at the Open University (Emeritus), and has served as Visiting Professor at the Bard Graduate Center (2003) and the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York (2007). He was the Clark Visiting Professor at Williams College in the Spring, 2009. He has also taught as visiting professor at the EPFL Lausanne and at the Architectural Association, London. He has lectured widely in the United States, Brazil, Italy, Spain and France. He is a noted scholar of the works of Le Corbusier. He was elected to the conseil d'aministration of the Fondation Le Corbusier in 2008. Professor Benton has acted as associate curator in several major exhibitions including Art and Power (Hayward Gallery,1995), Art Deco 1910-1939 (V&A, 2003), Modernism Designing a New World 1918-1939 (V&A, 2006) and Modern Taste: Art Deco in Paris 1910-1934 (Madrid 2015). Among his recent books are The Rhetoric of Modernism Le Corbusier as lecturer (Birkhauser 2007), a new edition of his book The Villas of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret (Birkhauser, Basel), LC Foto: Le Corbusier secret photographer (Lars Müller 2013), Le Corbusier peintre à Cap Martin (Editions du Patrimoine 2015), Mes années sauvages sur le bassin 1926-1936 (Imprimerie Ibep, 2015) and E-1027 La restauration de la villa en bord de mer de Eileen Gray et Jean Badovici (2016). He has also acted as scriptwriter and consultant for a film on Le Corbusier's vacations (2016).