LE CORBUSIER. Arthur Rüegg [Editor]: POLYCHROMIE ARCHITECTURALE [Le Corbusier’s Color Keyboards from 1931 and 1959]. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhäuser Verlag, 1997.

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Le Corbusier's Color Keyboards from 1931 and 1959

[Le Corbusier] Arthur Rüegg [Editor]

[Le Corbusier] Arthur Rüegg [Editor]: POLYCHROMIE ARCHITECTURALE [Le Corbusier's Color Keyboards from 1931 and 1959]. Basel, Boston, Berlin: Birkhäuser Verlag, 1997. First edition. Text in English, French and German. Oblong quartos. Three volumes housed in Publishers slipcase: Vol. I: Polychromie Architecturale, 173 pp. text with color illustrations throughout; Vol. II: Color Swatches, 63 full page color sheets; Vol. III: Color Keyboards, 12 color plates with the 63 colors, with 4 sliders in pocket at back. Elaborate production with custom printed color samples, swatches and 4 die-cut viewing slides [as issued]. Publishers slipcase rubbed along lower joints, otherwise a fine, unread set. Rare thus.

[3] 9.25 x 11.25 multi-lingual volumes: Polychromie Architecturale: Le Corbusiers Farbenklaviaturen von 1931 und 1959 / Le Corbusier's Color Keyboards from 1931 and 1959 / Les Claviers de de couleurs de Le Corbusier de 1931 et de 1959. This highly complex and exact reproduction printed in pigments of Le Corbusier's renowned Salubra Colours includes 12 chromatically perfect sample cards, 4 slide bands and 63 color sample sheets, all produced by a high-quality printing process, and then assembled and bound by hand.

Le Corbusier designed two color collections for the Salubra wallpaper company: the Clavier de couleurs of 1931, with 43 colors, and the 1959 collection, with 20. Not content with the mere color selection, drawn from his experience as an architect and painter, he also organized the tones on 12 sample cards in such a manner that, by using a slider (his "color keyboards"), three or five colors could be varyingly isolated or combined. Each card contained a different color scheme meant, when applied, to create a particular spatial effect. This would become not only a useful tool but also a kind of testament of the purist color theory, an essential groundwork and a valuable instrument for all those who deal with color in theory or practice.

In the first volume, Arthur Rüegg, the renowned Le Corbusier expert, explores the significance of the Salubra collections for the history of modern architecture. The second volume contains 12 color plates with the 63 colors, printed using the screen printing method and glued by hand as well as 4 separate sliders in pocket. Volume three consists of 63 full page color sample sheets, also printed using the screen printing method.

Born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, Le Corbusier (1887-1965) adopted his famous pseudonym after publishing his ideas in the review L’Esprit Nouveau in 1920. The few buildings he was able to design during the 1920s, when he also spent much of his time painting and writing, brought him to the forefront of modern architecture, though it wasn’t until after World War II that his epoch-making buildings were constructed, such as the Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles and the Church of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp.