Le Corbusier, Book Dummy for “Une Petite Maison”, (1954)
In 1954, Le Corbusier published the book, “Une Petite Maison”. In it, he describes the house that he built for his aging parents on the shores of Lake Geneva. It is above all about the act of dwelling, an essay on the poetics of space. As Gaston Bachelard explains in his book of the same name, “The act of dwelling arises infallibly as soon as one has the impression of being sheltered.” Le Corbusier’s book is a series of lessons on the poetics of shelter. They begin with the title and dust jacket. “Une Petite Maison” means not simply a quantitatively small house but especially a quantitatively small house. We sleep more soundly”, observes Bachelard in a “little house” than in a large one. The “little house” calls for reveries of coziness associated with miniatures. This cozy seclusion is even suggested in the cover where Le Corbusier has drawn a broad black band around it’s surface, thereby placing it in it’s own sheltered nest.
With Flora, the photographer Nick Knight reinvigorated the tradition of botanical photography initiated by Karl Blossfeldt in the 1890s. Each page of this elegantly designed volume contains a single image of a carefully selected botanical specimen from the Natural History Museum in London. These beautifully toned color photographs are presented in a manner that provokes curiosity in the natural world, and encourages detailed inspection of both the minutiae of the plant or flower, and of the unmistakable graphic tendencies of the image as a whole. Knight’s enthusiasm for seeing the familiar in a new light is complemented by the appendix of educational passages composed by the curator and botanist Sandra Knapp. The combination of the imaginary and the substantive, the artistic and the scientific, and the new and the old makes this book of photographs a fascinating addition to any art or botanical collection.