Reviewing Phaidon's latest tome, Le Corbusier Le Grand, is like being asked to review the Constitution. How do you take in something so all-encompassing, so sweeping in just a few sittings? And then, what do you say about it? Um, it's good?
First of all, it's fitting that a book devoted to the grandfather of modern architecture should weigh in at a jaw-dropping twenty pounds. The book is big enough to squash a small child, so forget about bedtime reading. Comprised of 624 pages, 2,000 illustrations (including a host of never before published personal documents), and measuring over 30 inches wide when open, Le Corbusier Le Grand requires its own viewing platform. Another coffee table book this is not.
Featuring an introductory essay by Jean-Louis Cohen, France's leading architectural historian, and ten chapters with introductions by Tim Benton, this book aims to be the final word on one of the most important architects in history.
While tempted to spend the month no doubt necessary to peruse the entire volume, I derived the most pleasure from scanning the archival photos of the architect himself. Not only is this book a record of Corbusier's building legacy, it also happens to be an exhaustive document of his impeccable sense of attire. Perhaps no where else will you find such fitting confluence of early 20th century architecture and fashion than this massive publication.