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Le Corbusier and the Age of Purism

Le Corbusier and the Age of Purism

In a nutshell

To mark its 60th anniversary, the National Museum of Western Art is hosting an exhibition in its main building, which was designed by Le Corbusier himself. While Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (Le Courbusier) is best known for his architecture, this exhibition focuses heavily on purism: its origins, tenets, members and output. There are many paintings by Le Corbusier and his purism co-founder Amédée Ozenfant that demonstrate the movement’s focus on geometric forms that combine art with mechanical engineering, giving the art a machine-like quality. Purism is also discussed in relation to cubism with works by Picasso and Braque on display. There are videos, photographs, drawings and models of Le Corbusier’s architecture as well.

The venue

The curators have done a nice job using the exhibition space to highlight Le Corbusier’s unique design and the principles of purism. (The works from the permanent collection that are normally in this space are unavailable during the exhibition.) The flow of the works is a bit confusing given the various hallways, balconies, and ramps in the building.

English? (labels/audio guides/handouts)

All of the information is in English, including an audio guide. There is an additional guide that can be downloaded using free wifi and a QR code.


Photos are allowed in a few marked areas.

The feels

Because purism strips away unnecessary and decorative elements and elevates mechanical qualities, the art seems somewhat industrial. The architectural models are impressive.


Anyone interested in architecture or learning more about purism.

How far out?

Centrally located in Ueno Park. A few minutes walk from the JR Ueno Station (park exit); about a ten minute walk from the Keisei Ueno station or the Ueno Subway station.

How much time?

A bit over an hour.

How much money?

¥1,600 for general admission.

Until when?

May 19, 2019

Rating: make a special trip, see it if you’re in the area or have some free time, see it only if you like this specific type of art

Worth seeing if you have some free time or enjoy architecture.


https://www.nmwa.go.jp/en/exhibitions/2019lecorbusier.html and https://lecorbusier2019.jp/en/

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