Comparative lives of Andrea Palladio and Le Corbusier

Charles Knevitt is a former Architecture Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph and The Times. He was later (2004-11) Director of the RIBA Trust, managing the cultural assets and delivering the public outreach programme of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Among his numerous books are the Top 20 bestseller, One’s Life; and two monographs on the work of Richard England, Manikata (1980, reprinted in 1986) and Connections (1984). In 2013 he curated the exhibition Richard England – Architect and Artist for the Bank of Valletta.

Andrea Palladio (1508-80) and Le Corbusier (1887-1965) were the two giants of Western architecture – one the greatest and most influential architect of the sixteenth century, the other of the twentieth century.

It was the British critic Colin Rowe (1920-99) who first examined Modernism’s debt to Classicism, in the 1940s. He focused on Palladio’s influence on Le Corbusier who sought to recreate ‘the spirit of Palladio’ in his houses of the 1920s.

The two architects led remarkably similar lives: both studied Classical architecture first hand and were largely self-taught; both had assumed names; both became famous for what they wrote rather than for what they built; both published their own work alongside masterpieces from history, thus bolstering their own reputations; both were equally famous for their villas and religious works; and they even died at a similar age – Palladio at 71and Le Corbusier at 77.

But just how far did Le Corbusier consciously mimic the architect whose style gave rise to the term ‘Palladian’, just as he – 400 years later – gave rise to the term ‘Corbusian’? In this paper Charles Knevitt explores their comparative lives.

When: 20 May
Time: 9.00pm
Where: Fort St Elmo, Valletta
Free entry



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