^ Amédée Ozenfant, Albert Jeanneret, Le Courbusier, Villa Jeanneret-Perret, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, 1918
For AW16, inspiration has been taken from the Purism movement, founded by Edouard Jeanneret (better known as the modern architect Le Corbusier) and Amédée Ozenfant. In particular, the smoothly applied paint and integral forms found in Jeanneret’s still life paintings have inspired the introduction of suede, as well as a refined rich colour palette and new pattern emboss.
In 1917, Charles Edouard Jeanneret (he would give himself the pseudonym ‘Le Corbusier’ in 1920) was working as a consultant architect, as well as being heavily involved in managing a factory making concrete blocks. It was in this year, at the age of 31, that he met Amédée Ozenfant at a lunch at the Association of Art et Liberté in Paris.
Ozenfant, an artist and writer, encouraged Jeanneret to spend time painting, which he took to keenly during the weekends and then also in the mornings before turning to his work. During a holiday to Andernos in September 1918, Ozenfant introduced Jeanneret to his theory of Purism and they continued to work tirelessly through the ideas together. Shortly afterwards, they published Aprés le Cubism, in which they promoted the painting of objects as geometric forms stripped of detail; a move away from the decorative tendancies of Cubism and a celebration of the age of the machine. Ozenfant explains their carefully laid out theory:
We affirmed that art must tend always to precision and that the epoch of every sort of Impressionism was done with, even such as remained in Cubism. We laid down the foundations for a Purism that would bring order into the aesthetic imbroglio, and inoculate artists with the new spirit of the age misapprehended by so many of them.
Aprés le Cubism was included alongside the catalogue for their joint exhibition at Galerie Thomas in Paris. The exhibition received mixed reviews but did not deter the painters.
They continued to express their views on political, artistic and scientific developments in the journal L’Esprit Nouveau, in which they praised the ‘well made, the exact, the swift, the precise’. Between1920 and 1925, there were 28 issues published and it was in the first of these that Jeanneret initially adopted the pseudonym Le Corbusier.
Although Jeanneret’s early work can be criticised for being too controlled, his progression in terms of composition can be seen in Nature morte à la pile d’assiettes, where everyday objects are reduced to powerful static flat shapes and precise curves, notice the top of the bottle is an exact circle. Colour has strict boundaries and a limited range, a key rule of Purism.
Le Corbusier explains the importance of having this creative outlet in his life and its influence on his work:
The key to my artistic creativity is my work in the field of painting which I took up in 1918 and have continued to practise daily. The basis of my intellectual quest and production lies in the uninterrupted active pursuit of painting. It is there that the source of my open-mindedness, my disinterestedness and of independence – the integrity – of my work is to be found.
^ Jeanneret, La cheminée, oil on canvas, 1918
^ Jeanneret, Nature morte à la pile d’assiettes, oil on canvas, 1920
The Le Corbusier pattern emboss detail, seen below, was designed keeping the geometric shapes of his paintings at the front of our minds. Pure circles and precise lines placed directly onto the Simple Coin Pouch and Simple Slim Wallet. Colour has also had its influence with the introduction of Khaki and Navy, present in the paintings, and a palette that we will continue to reference.
Not only have these aesthetic cues been taken but we have truly been inspired and in awe of Le Corbusier's immense output of work. The way he took hold of projects and refined his own skills is something to admire. He started painting in his 30s and it became a lifelong body of work - perhaps something we can take example from. Always learning, always creating.
^ Campbell Cole, AW16 Simple Collection Lookbook, Photography by Jack Neville
For more inspiring images, see our Pinterest board Inspired By | Purism.
The quotations from both Jeanneret and Ozenfant were taken from the wonderful book documenting Le Corbusier’s early life and work, Le Corbusier The Creative Search written by Geoffrey H. Baker, which has been an essential reference throughout our research.
Le Corbusier, Kenneth Frampton (2001)
Le Corbusier 1887 – 1965, Jean-Louis Cohen (2004)
Le Corbusier (A Life), Nicholas Fox Weber (2008)
Le Corbusier Ideas and Forms, William J R Curtis (1986)
Le Corbusier The Creative Search, Geoffrey H. Baker (1996)