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L'Esprit Nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925

Eliel, Carol S., and Ducros, Francoise, and Gronberg, Tag

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ISBN 10: 0810967278 / ISBN 13: 9780810967274
Published by Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Los Angeles and New York, 2001
Manuscript / Paper Collectible Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Cloth, 191 pp., illus. (some col.), biblio., index; 27 cm. Published in conjunction with an exhibition held at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, April 29 to August 5, 2001 and at the Musée de Grenoble, October 6, 2001 to January 6, 2002. Firm binding, clean inside copy. Dust jacket protected in a mylar book cover. OVERSIZE! No priority/air, except by special arrangement. "The Purist movement in art, founded by Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (better known as Le Corbusier) and Amedee Ozenfant, championed a traditional classicism with a formal focus on clean geometries while it simultaneously embraced new technologies and materials. Realized equally in painting and in architecture, Purism also incorporated interior and industrial design and urban planning. The periodical L'Esprit Nouveau, founded by Ozenfant and Jeanneret in 1920, served as the mouthpiece for the Purist movement; the diverse subject matter addressed in the magazine reflected the wide-ranging interests of the Purists." "Published to accompany a major exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L'Esprit Nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925 is the first major study of Purism in almost fifteen years and a key contribution to the study of classic twentieth-century modernism in painting and architecture. This revealing volume examines over seventy-five paintings by Jeanneret, Ozenfant, and their closest colleague, Fernand Leger. Also included is the full text of Le Corbusier's and Ozenfant's 1918 manifesto, Apres Je cubisme, translated for the first time into English. At the heart of L'Esprit Nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925 lies a single work: Le Corbusier's striking Pavillon de l'Esprit Nouveau, designed for the 1925 International Exposition of Decorative Arts in Paris, at which the term Art Deco was coined. The architecture of Le Corbusier's pavilion, along with its interior decoration - paintings, sculpture, furniture, glassware, rugs, and other objects - offers a complete summation of Purist aesthetics." - Publisher. CONTENTS: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925, by Carol S. Eliel; Ame de Ozenfant, "Purist brother": an essay on his contribution, by Franc oise Ducros; Making up the modern city: modernity on display at the 1925 international exposition, by Tag Gronberg; After cubism, by Ame de Ozenfant and Charles-Edouard Jeannert [translated by John Goodman]. Size: 4to - over 9¾" - 12" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 006958

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Bibliographic Details

Title: L'Esprit Nouveau: Purism in Paris, 1918-1925

Publisher: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Los Angeles and New York

Publication Date: 2001

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st.

Book Type: Exhibition Catalogue

About this title


The companion volume to an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art examines more than seventy-five paintings and other artworks, representing the Purist movement in twentieth-century modernist art, featuring the works of Le Corbusier, AmTdTe Ozenfant, and Fernand LTger as well as a complete translation of the classic work AprFs le cubisme.


A painter and an architect, both in their early 30s, met in Paris in 1918 and recognized each other as soul mates. Both believed that the carnage of World War I would be followed by a brave new world based on "the industrial, mechanical, scientific spirit."

As editor of a short-lived magazine, the painter, Amédée Ozenfant, had written about cubism as a form of "purism" that removed art's extraneous baggage. Idealistic Swiss architect Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (a.k.a. Le Corbusier) had returned from travels through Europe and the Mediterranean convinced that the best buildings were based on modular geometric forms.

Together, the two developed an aesthetic based on what they saw as the overwhelming human need for order and the "remarkable refinement and purity" of machines. Both men painted distinctively geometric and architectural still lifes, in which bottles, vases, or even a pile of plates took on the forms of Greek columns. Joined by Fernand Léger, whose paintings included geometric human figures, more obvious references to machinery, and a brighter palette, the Purists presented their vision at the 1925 International Exposition in Paris.

The most intriguing chapter in this otherwise straightforward art history book is Tag Gronberg's essay on how the Esprit Nouveau pavilion at the exposition offered a "masculine" counterpart to the feminized postwar image of Paris. While the fashion and beauty industries evoked "a modern consumer culture defined in terms of mobility and constant change," the Purists celebrated "the engineer's aesthetic" and praised the standardized design of men's clothing.

This modestly sized, elegantly designed volume--which reproduces a good number of the paintings in color, though in a small scale that doesn't do full justice to their eccentric beauty--accompanies an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (through August 5, 2001). --Cathy Curtis

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