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Isabel Cano on Battle Lines: E.1027
20 November, 2023
Beatriz Colomina discusses the vandalism rendered by Le Corbusier on E. 1027, a house designed, built, and inhabited by the architect Eileen Gray. The author presents the degrees of Le Corbusier’s invasion on Gray’s architecture and identity and compares it to the traces of violence of the bullet marks left all over the walls of the house from World War II. Colomina uses sources, photos, mural and letters to retrace the series of events that lead to confusion and the polemic misreading of the space. The author describes the first case of invasion as the execution of eight murals on the walls of Gray’s house. Le Corbusier admits that the murals dematerialize the pure white wall characteristic of Gray’s modern building, writing over her intention of the space.
Colomina exposes a second invasion. Le Corbusier represents Gray and her partner Jean Badovici, with whom she shared the house, in a mural that he refers to as “Sous le pilotis,” “Graffite à Cap Martin” and “Three women.” The mural questions Gray’s sexuality as a lesbian and, at the same time, dictates her expected social feminine role with the figure in the middle that he describes as “the desired child, who was never born.” Le Corbusier projects a retraced image of Gray’s sexuality as a fetish on the wall, in the same way he recreates “Les Femmes de la Casbah” of his travel of Algiers by drawing from a post card of the place and then redrawing from his own drawings repeatedly. Colomina expresses the association of the body and identity of a women with an architectural piece by Le Corbusier. The woman becomes an object used as he pleases.
The third element to the invasion of Eileen Gray’s house is the wooden cabin built by Le Corbusier next to her house, that originally cannot be accessed from any road, Roquebrune at Cap Martin in France. Le Corbusier erases Eileen Gray’s intention of isolation of the building and represents a building that overlooks her privacy. Lastly, Le Corbusier published his murals in the collection of his works, without mentioning Gray. Le Corbusier’s name was lately associated with the design of the house, erasing Eileen Gray from her own project.