18 Dec 2008

Open University lecturer wins prestigious French literature prize

Le Corbusier conférencier

Le Corbusier conférencier

Tim Benton, Professor of Art History at The Open University, has just been announced the joint winner of the Prix du Livre by the Academie d’Architecture in France. The award is the most prestigious prize for books about architecture in the French language and he shares it with architect and architectural historian Philippe Prost.

Professor Benton’s book Le Corbusier conférencier, is a collection of numerous excerpts, preliminary notes, accompanying drawings, and photographs that architect Le Corbusier produced for his lectures. It covers the period 1924 – 1929 and analyses the construction, content and use of verbal and visual aids.

By using manuscript notes and eyewitness accounts, Professor Benton was able to reconstruct the content of unscripted presentations, thereby unlocking a completely new perspective on Le Corbusier’s thinking.

The book was selected from a shortlist of eight, nominated by a jury of architects, historians and critics. Commenting on his award, Professor Benton said: “I am extremely excited by the jury’s selection of my book, since the book is an unusual one and not the typical architectural monograph. I became fascinated with Le Corbusier’s architecture when I first saw it in real life, and the Fondation Le Corbusier’s rich archive has kept me hooked ever since. The richness of the collection is a fascinating and complex challenge for anyone studying it.”

Le Corbusier conférencier was first published in 2007 in French. An English edition, The Rhetoric of Modernism: Le Corbusier as a lecturer will be published in May 2009 by Birkhauser.

Editor's Notes
Tim Benton, Professor of Art History at The Open University, has worked on the architecture of Le Corbusier since 1973. His classic work, The Villas of Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, originally published in French in 1984 and in English in 1987, has been reissued in a revised edition in 2006 (French, English and Italian editions). He has worked on numerous exhibitions, including Art Deco 1910-1939 (2003) and Modernism Designing a new world 1914-1939 (2006), both at the V&A.

Tim is a member of the Conseil d’Administration (managing committee) of the Fondation Le Corbusier and is currently chairing a working party producing a comprehensive edition of all Le Corbusier’s lecture notes.

He is the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College, Massachusetts.

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