Flesh and Form

Volume 49, Issue 2 :: by Caitlin Turski Watson

Light and the Sacred at the Chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut

Pere Marie-Alain Couturier and Le Corbusier discussing the chapel to be built at Ronchamp.

Pere Marie-Alain Couturier and Le Corbusier discussing the chapel to be built at Ronchamp. Photograph by Lucien Herve. Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2002.R.41)

In the 20th century, theologians and philosophers observed a notable decline in the sacredness of religious art running parallel to science’s increasing mechanization of vision. Mircea Eliade writes, “There is a certain symmetry between the perspective of the philosopher and theologian, and that of the modern artist; for one as for the other the “death of God” signifies above all the impossibility of expressing a religious experience in traditional religious language.”² The didactic use of symbols and the figurative portrayal of biblical narrative were no longer effective means for conveying divine truth. In the face of a new confidence in human agency and the interpretation of sensory data by a mechanical body, such symbols lost the inherent power formerly attributed to them and sunk to the level of mere representation. Many identified the beginnings of a commodification of the religious image through the mass reproduction of icons following this symbolic reduction.³

In the face of the growing crisis, a group of French clergy, the Commission d’Art Sacré, recognized the need to reconcile Catholicism with a secular spirituality in order to produce truly sacred art or architecture in modern times. Maurice Denis and George Desvalliéres pioneered this effort in founding the Ateliers d’Art Sacré in 1919. While the Ateliers exerted very little real influence, the search for renewed spirituality within the work of art gained momentum in postwar France. Marie-Alain Couturier, an artist from the Ateliers d’Art Sacré, joined the Dominican Order in 1925 and, beginning in 1937, continued his involvement in the matter as co-editor with Pére Pie-Raymond Régamey of L’Art Sacré, a review printed to further the discussion and dissemination of religious art. Within the articles he wrote for L’Art Sacré, Couturier professed that abstract art, in conveying intrinsic beauty, could have religious potential. This belief constituted a significant break from the formerly representative nature of religious art. Couturier maintained close relationships with artists including Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Georges Rouault, resulting in their commissions for the chapels at Assy, Vence, and Audincourt. This collaboration with both Catholic and non-Catholic artists demonstrated a radical new approach to the creation of sacred art. Influenced by German Romantic notions of artistic genius, Couturier was convinced that the Catholic Church must look outside the faith in order to attain the truly spiritual. By enlisting the aid of the great masters of modern art, he believed that the Church was actually establishing a more direct connection with God’s divine truth.

According to Couturier, “To be true today, a church should be no more than a flat roof on four walls. But their proportions, their volume, the distribution of light and shadow, could be so pure, so intense, that anyone coming in would feel the spiritual dignity and solemnity of the place. God is glorified not by richness and hugeness but by the perfection of a pure work.”4 For the reconstruction of the Chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp in 1950, Couturier and the Commission d’Art Sacré enlisted Le Corbusier to take precisely this approach. The chapel became his first built religious work after the controversy surrounding his design for the Basilica of Sainte-Baume in 1948, which was never completed. Le Corbusier’s selection for the project followed the recommendation of Canon Ledeur, Secretary of the Besançon Commission d’Art Sacré, and met with great resistance from leading Church officials. However, he had the full support of the commission, especially Couturier. Although Couturier died just before the chapel’s completion, the artist-priest and architect maintained constant dialogue and developed a close friendship throughout the design. The overlap and synthesis of their ideas regarding modern art, although often overlooked, is clearly etched into the forms of Ronchamp and later carried into the design for the convent Sainte Marie de La Tourette in 1953, also commissioned by Couturier before his death. While many modernists at the time condemned the project as opposing the pursuit of rationalism, Le Corbusier’s acceptance of the Ronchamp commission reveals that for him the aim of modernism was perhaps closer to that professed by Couturier—it sought to reveal the poetic and invisible “flesh of the world” through artistic creation and the unveiling of the pure form, an intention embedded clearly in much of his written work.

During design, Le Corbusier consulted Couturier and various religious art journals—presumably including L’Art Sacré—to familiarize himself with the demands of the Catholic liturgy. Studies of his annotations and comments written in his sketchbooks reveal that he exhibited a particular interest in the site’s history as a place of pilgrimage and destruction and in the cult of the Virgin Mary, to whom the chapel is dedicated. These interests seem to have paralleled his fascination with alchemy and the union of opposites—especially the meeting of matter and spirit brought about by the Incarnation and historically symbolized in painting through rays of light falling down upon the Virgin. The reintroduction of light as a phenomenon to be experienced in a sensuous manner through built form, then, aligns critically with the ideals of the Commission d’Art Sacré. The chapel at Ronchamp presents a unique opportunity to examine the spiritual basis of Le Corbusier’s use of light as the material that binds the incorporeal and corporeal, pointing toward the unity of body and soul professed in Catholic doctrine.

In Towards a New Architecture, Le Corbusier famously writes, “Architecture is the masterly, correct, and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Our eyes are made to see forms in light; light and shade reveal these forms…”5 At Ronchamp in 1950, this play between light and mass becomes central to Le Corbusier’s design in a new and meaningful way. Light dematerializes mass, cutting through shadow and making it appear darker—deeper. Shadows trail across gunite walls, textured like sandpaper and, when followed, lead to hidden pockets of densely channeled light full of color carving out and illuminating smaller chapels. Light and shadow provide the media through which Le Corbusier communicates with visitors, immersing them in a fully synaesthetic visual tactility. The use of light at Ronchamp, while often mentioned, has not been discussed with a due level of importance that considers its direct relationship to Couturier’s beliefs regarding the work of art and its parallels with the spiritualization of originally secular phenomenological principles. Through an examination of the potential of modern art as defined by Couturier in L’Art Sacré and contemporaneous phenomenological discourse in postwar Paris, we will now attempt to open up a reading of light as objet ambigu and revealer of form in Le Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp.

Interior of the south wall at the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Interior of the south wall at the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut, Ronchamp. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

The Poetic Moment and Pure Form

The crucial link between Le Corbusier and Courturier’s thoughts on the potential power of modern art lies in what the architect refers to as the “poetic moment.” He remarks, “Painting, architecture, sculpture, are unique phenomena of plastic nature in the service of poetic research in that they are capable of releasing the poetic moment.”6 The poetic moment links the viewer’s experience of the work of art to an act of showing intent and meaning on the part of the artist, and it reveals beauty as figurative religious art formerly revealed divine truths to its beholders. The potential Courturier identifies of renewing sacred art through a secular spirituality rests firmly within this revealing. Architecture allows us to be embedded within the work itself rather than merely viewing it from a distance. Such an understanding of architecture as a plastic art questions the normative subject-object relationship of user and building in favor of intersubjective experience, grounded by the intimacy of enclosure and movement through space. This shift of subjectivity to the work itself establishes the reflexive condition between matter and spirit upheld by the Catholic doctrine of Incarnation.

Couturier viewed art as a language whose primary aim was the revelation of beauty through pure forms.7 In L’Art Sacré he wrote, “For beauty, of itself and by itself, is a genuine good: diffusivium sui (self-diffusing). Pure forms, just by being before our eyes to see, ‘tune’ us (as a piano is tuned) to their beauty. Like music, they secretly impose their measure and rhythms upon us.”8 Le Corbusier believed that these forms were connected to the mathematical proportion of the Modulor and that the role of the artist-architect was to perceptibly articulate them in order to communicate their essence through the built work. For both Couturier and Le Corbusier, the ability to perceive the pure form within the world—aligned with the observable nature of the divine in natural philosophy—constitutes the relative directness of the relationship between the master artist as the revealer of these forms and God as their original maker. The poetic moment occurs in the instant at which the pure form articulated by the work reveals itself to the viewer. Le Corbusier’s architecture seeks to reveal the pure form largely through the carefully orchestrated play of light and shadow.

He writes, “As you can imagine, I use light freely; light for me is the fundamental basis of architecture. I compose with light.”9 Le Poème de l’Angle Droit, a series of poems and paintings composed by the architect between 1947 and 1953 overlapping with his work at Ronchamp, provides an intimate portrayal of his personal beliefs. The overarching theme of Le Poème lies in the union of the physical and the spiritual through embodied human perception as defined by the right angle, referring to man’s upright posture and its influence on the nature of human experience. This union, for Le Corbusier, is what is truly at stake within any work of art or architecture. Their purpose is to provide a ground for the meeting of spirit and matter to occur through the revelation of the poetic moment. His portrayal of the sun within Le Poème addresses how this revelation might occur:

The sun is the master of our lives
indifferent far
He is the visitor—a lord—
He comes to us (x).10

Le Corbusier characterizes the sun as the keeper of time who comes to us at the right angle (x) of the horizon. He regards time as unrepeatable in that the passage from light to dark varies daily and never reoccurs in exactly the same way. So, light acts as the marker of time through its articulation of this transition from night to day, and it provides a way of understanding time in relation to human experience, which is also varied and unrepeatable. The fluctuation of light and shadow becomes one agent through which the passage of time enters the perceptible realm. In its ability to make the intangible sensible, light also becomes central to the revelation of meaning through the pure form.

Milieu A.1 in Le Poeme de l’Angle Droit, Le Corbusier, 1947-53. Source: Fondation Le Corbusier

Milieu A.1 in Le Poeme de l’Angle Droit, Le Corbusier, 1947-53. Source: Fondation Le Corbusier. Copyright F.L.C. / ADAGP, Paris / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York 2016. Reproduction, including downloading of Le Corbusier works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

At Ronchamp, our experience of light is intensified, colored, and manipulated. The incoming light itself is not colored or changed. Rather, these changes occur only through its architectural articulation. Ronchamp’s light never ceases to be light itself, which is ultimately unchangeable and immaterial. It exists as a pure potentiality of experience, entering the realm of Paul Valery’s objet ambigu—“something for which there is no designation in a Platonic ontology” and which “fails to find a place in the ultimate classification of ancient metaphysics, into the distinction between the natural and the artificial,” or that made by God and that made by man.11 The concept of the objet ambigu has significant implications for light—a condensation of matter and spirit that is, in itself, neither of the two. Understood in this way, light goes beyond the representation of the divine or the literal manifestation of the spirit within the corporeal world. Rather, it is the potentiality that makes the meeting of the two perceptible. Le Corbusier, heavily influenced by Valery’s Eupalinos, carries the objet ambigu further into his own use of the objet à rèaction poétique.12

Le Corbusier’s poetic objects bring together touch and vision, with both elements being required to experience them fully. However, his interest in the objects does not seem to have been one of literal formal translation. Rather, it concerns embedding the quality of a thing’s tactile experience into the perceptible forms of the built work. One example of such an object is the crab shell that inspired Ronchamp’s distinctive roof.13 However, unlike the objet ambigu, the objets à rèaction poétique are grounded in their physicality, and their forms must be sensibly articulated. Light provides the element needed to actualize this articulation. It is used as a tool to reveal the pure forms embedded within the architecture, pointing toward the spirituality sought by Couturier.

Light cast across gunite walls and framed by shadow at the southeast end of the chapel. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Light cast across gunite walls and framed by shadow at the southeast end of the chapel. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Light as Flesh

The potential tactility of vision implied by Le Corbusier’s concept of the poetic moment also exists within the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s ontology of the “flesh of the world.” In this, light and vision come together once again. He initially takes up this task in his first major work, The Structure of Behaviour, in which he identifies both scientific “real light” and “phenomenal light” as experience. However, paralleling the lack of distinction between the natural and artificial in Valery’s objet ambigu, Merleau-Ponty establishes the impossibility of separating our mechanical perception of light from our bodied experience of it.14 Light simultaneously reenters the realm of the sensible and the extrasensory. In his final work, The Visible and the Invisible, he clarifies the relationship between the two. He defines the visible as “an ephemeral modulation of this world” and the invisible as “the tissue that lines [the visible]… and which for its part is not a thing, but a possibility, a latency, and a flesh of things.”15

The connection between Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and Le Corbusier’s design for the chapel at Ronchamp involves the direct spiritualization of originally secular phenomenological ideas, particularly following the Thomist scholars of the Lublin school. Merleau-Ponty’s flesh carries no necessary spiritual component, however it takes on new and decidedly metaphysical implications when reinterpreted through Catholic theology. It is this reinterpretation that exerts an influence on Le Corbusier’s concept of light and its use at Ronchamp. Light as immaterial material architecturally fulfills the role held by the flesh within Merleau-Ponty’s ontology. It is the latency of the visible—a pure potentiality that is not itself color or form but is inextricably tied to the coming into vision of either and of everything. The poetic moment, then, is the touching that occurs when this light as flesh fully comes into contact with our own thinking and sensing flesh. We see this light only as it is articulated architecturally by its other side, shadow, and thus experience it as a contrast—as its simultaneous presence and lack of presence, both of which are necessary to constitute its being there.

This concept of light as flesh aligns with the intentions expressed by Couturier and the Commission d’Art Sacré in that it admits the necessary presence of something beyond the visible that is also sensible within it as the invisible, as with a corporeal experience of the divine. Within this tactile world in which all sensing becomes a dimension of touch extended, there is an opening of the real possibility for the bodied experience of spiritual things through a visual encounter with the flesh, of which light becomes a primary component. For Le Corbusier, light becomes the means through which form, color, and proportion are revealed.

The outdoor pilgrims’ sanctuary, oriented toward the sunrise. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

The outdoor pilgrims’ sanctuary, oriented toward the sunrise. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Le Corbusier’s Language of Light

In his book on Ronchamp, Le Corbusier writes, “The key is light/ and light illuminates shapes/ and shapes have an emotional power.”16 For Merleau-Ponty the reality of light lies wholly in its contingency to the sensible. Le Corbusier achieves this reality of light at Ronchamp through the careful manipulation of color and shadow. The articulation of light through architecture and of architecture through light becomes a way of pulling the visible and the invisible into a singular experience to be engaged by the thinking and sensing body. In the chapel this becomes most evident in the relationship between interior and exterior, the symbolism regarding the Incarnation, and the use of color and shadow in articulating an architectural void.

In his discussions with Le Corbusier, Couturier emphasized the importance of Ronchamp as a site of pilgrimage. This stemmed from his own beliefs concerning the restoration of true spirituality made possible through the renewal of ritual: “In rural France the people still cherish these traditional sites: once or twice a year a ceremony from the past, a pilgrimage restored, would be enough to revive some degree of genuine life, and this would save them.”17 The chapel at Ronchamp remained an important destination for thousands of pilgrims on the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, and Mary’s birthday, September 8, and as such provided a stronghold for the preservation of the pilgrimage tradition. Le Corbusier celebrates the ritual of the pilgrimage as a procession by expanding the chapel to encompass the entire site and sequence of approach. He blurs the distinction between interior and exterior while collapsing experience and perception into an act of movement through the work as it reveals itself. This collapse of experience and perception opens up the possibility for a direct meeting of the corporeal and psychological, matter and spirit, which carries over into Le Corbusier’s use of light as material.

From a distance, the chapel’s protruding light towers rise up above the surrounding landscape, and the form of the building continues to unfold itself slowly upon approach, changing slightly with every step to reveal a new curve or surface. At the top of the hill, the east wall opens up into the outdoor pilgrimage chapel—a sanctuary to both the sky and the view to the horizon from the space of the altar (the right angle, x). This is a chapel flooded by intense natural light from all sides in a celebration of the sun marked by the stepped pyramid at its furthest edge, which recalls ancient monuments to pagan sun gods. The altar sits below the overhang of the sloping crab-shell roof whose shadow slowly moves across the exterior of the east wall, marking the passage of time from one moment to the next.

This marking of time is doubled on the interior by the east and west tower chapels, which use the changing light to frame the sun’s movement through the sky as it passes from sunrise to sunset. We are reminded of the sun’s depiction in Le Poème de l’Angle Droit. In his notes Le Corbusier writes, “Inside, alone with yourself. Outside, 10,000 pilgrims in front of the altar.”18 The open-air sanctuary exists as an autonomous space while maintaining a clear connection to the indoor sanctuary. The rotating niche housing the Statue of the Virgin to which Notre-Dame-du-Haut is dedicated acts as a link between the two spaces—one articulated by the penetration of the light coming from outside and the other by shadows cast by the building from within itself. The architecture, designed for the passage of pilgrims across the site, frames both the body of the chapel, through movement and space, and the body of the divine, through light. In this, the meeting of the interior and exterior sanctuaries constitutes the meeting of corporeal and spiritual bodies.

This meeting is reiterated liturgically and architecturally in the symbolism surrounding the Virgin Mary. Within Catholic tradition, Mary serves as the mediator between God and humanity, establishing a direct link between the spiritual and the physical through her Immaculate Conception, Assumption into Heaven, and subsequent role as intercessor. In 1950, the year of the chapel’s commission, Pope Pius XII officially adopted Mary’s Assumption into Catholic doctrine, solidifying her place within the Church’s teaching. Le Corbusier’s murals on the enameled south door, which functions as the main entry, evidence the importance of Mary within Ronchamp’s iconography. The outer panel of the door depicts the Annunciation, in which the angel Gabriel comes to visit Mary and she conceives Christ, and the inner panel represents the Assumption of her body into heaven.19 The Annunciation and Incarnation constitute the spiritual concretely entering the realm of the physical, and the Assumption completes this as the physical then passes into the realm of the spirit. A ray of light had traditionally symbolized the descent of the divine into the human world within depictions of the Immaculate Conception. Le Corbusier makes strong connections to this representational tradition within the chapel.

His personal ties to the cult of Mary stem from a 1911 trip to Mount Athos in Greece, where he attended the festival of the Virgin at the Monastery of Iviron:

Morbid meditations. During a festive night… A fantastic vision of the sanctuary of the Virgin… In a dark apse behind the iconostasis. After a year of darkness the iconostasis is ablaze with brilliant golds rekindled by the fiery torch of offerings burning in the chancel… Finally, closing my eyes, I have a vision of a black shroud covered with golden stars. In fact I am in the shroud, but a stranger to the stars!20

The image of Mary as a female deity imprinted itself strongly on the young architect. Her role as the Woman of the Apocalypse—“clothed in the sun, the moon at her feet,” as Le Corbusier noted in his sketchbook—bears strong alchemical overtones in the union of opposites: sun and moon, male and female, matter and spirit.21 At Ronchamp, he drew particularly on the duality of Mary as both Virgin and Magdalene as represented in the statue niche, which is half in shadow and half in light and can be rotated to face either the illuminated outdoor sanctuary or the shadowy interior.

The union of immaculate purity and transgression find their perceptible manifestation in the way light penetrates the building’s openings as it invades and impregnates the sacred space of the inner sanctuary. According to Flora Samuel in her book Le Corbusier: Architect and Feminist, the handle of the east door connecting the inner and outer sanctuaries, shaped in plan like a pair of breasts, and the cockleshell imprinted above it assign the passage a feminine role. She goes on to argue that the presumably male visitor is then encouraged to engage with the building sensually through the act of touch upon grasping the handle.22 However, we should consider the alchemical designation of the sun as a male entity and traditional Catholic iconography linking sunlight to the sensible presence of God. In this context, the relationship between the shadowy interior and the luminous exterior sanctuaries reveals itself anew, and we might interpret that the light flooding in through the opening of the southeast corner around the door actually assumes the role of male divinity as it penetrates the virgin threshold. The south wall is transformed by light. It is no longer purely concrete or static—the roof is lifted and made weightless. We see it in its moment of becoming. The southeast corner, entirely dematerialized at the highest point of the sloping roof, assumes the critical moment at which the corporeal and incorporeal become one, and it spills its light across the altar where this joining will be re-enacted through the transubstantiation of the host during the celebration of the Eucharist, overlooked by the Statue of the Virgin also immersed in eastern light.

In this, the incoming light establishes the hierarchical space of the altar as the site where the ritual of the Mass is celebrated. Here we can recognize that Le Corbusier has not created an architecture of envelope. He has designed the void and treated the experience of the interior space as the form rather than the negative. The use of light as a positive compositional element intensifies this. As flesh, it acts as the potentiality that brings the void into the realm of the sensual. However, as observed by Merleau-Ponty, the flesh itself is only made perceptible through its sensible articulation. Le Corbusier uses color at specific moments within the chapel to serve as the actualization of perceptible light and form. On the exterior, he selectively reserves color for the interior of the niche for the Statue of the Virgin, the main entry door on the south wall, and the two service doors on the north wall. On the interior, we also see this color picked up in the painted vitrages inset in the south wall, the tabernacle, and the east chapel tower. Each of these dashes of color denotes a moment of threshold—a point of entry into the chapel for either corporeal humans, as with the doors, or incorporeal spirit, as with the vitrages and the tabernacle. Le Corbusier writes, “Sometimes there is a door: one opens it—enters—one is in another realm, the realm of the gods, the room which holds the key to the great systems. These doors are the doors of the miracles.”23 At Ronchamp, these doors are the doors of penetration and incarnation. The meeting of spirit and matter within them appears in the articulation constituted by their color appearing in light.

Similarly, the architect sculpts shadow as the other side of light rather than its absence. He remarks, “Observe the play of shadows, learn the game.”24 Outside, the form of the building reveals itself through the shifting emergence of shadows as a visitor moves around it. The curves of the walls and crevices captured by the roof expose the shadowy interior that is the other side of the sunlight pilgrim’s sanctuary—even the painted vitrages appear as black holes punched into the south wall. The skin of the building gathers shadow into itself in the textured relief of the sprayed gunite finish. These shadows dance across the chapel, marking time as the sun proceeds on its own pilgrimage through the sky. The interior, already immersed in a cool darkness, takes in the colored shadows cast by sunlight piercing through the vitrages. Thus, the pure form reveals itself through the architectural articulation and movement of light.

Light pouring into the sanctuary through the southeast corner and statue niche. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Light pouring into the sanctuary through the southeast corner and statue niche. Photo: Caitlin Turski Watson

Modern Art and Secular Spirituality

In The Meaning of Modern Art, Karsten Harries argues, “In a more self-conscious [modern] age, religious art can no longer be imitative in the traditional sense.”25 In this, figurative representations of the divine no longer constitute a direct sensuous relationship between matter and spirit. For Marie-Alain Couturier, abstract and transcendental modern art had the potential to go around the issue of figurative representation and the loss of power granted to the mimetic image in order to create sensuous works that make emotional appeals through the portrayal of the “really true” rather than the strictly corporeal. It turns the visible upon itself, using it to represent the invisible without trying to picture it literally.

Le Corbusier captures this potential within architecture as a plastic art by using light to bridge the gap between vision and experience, revealing the pure form at the meeting point of the visible and the invisible. This revealing restores the tactile component bound up in the experience of seeing. In Le Poème de l’Angle Droit, Le Corbusier proposes that the right angle is an act of solidarity with nature of perceiving the world upright with both the body and the eyes.26 In this, seeing becomes an act that is necessarily bodied.

Frances C. Lonna writes that “meaningful architecture depends on a realization that visible form and language refer to something other, recognized only when the dominant sense of vision is mediated by the body’s primary tactile and synaesthetic understanding.”27 Le Corbusier’s Chapel Notre Dame du Haut achieves this by allowing us to meet its incoming light with our bodies rather than our eyes. The passage of light and shadow through the space conveys the mystery of the Incarnation as defined by the Catholic Church, and it points toward the sanctity sought by the Commission d’Art Sacré, renewing the capacity of the plastic work to move us emotionally and spiritually. It challenges the role of the building as a static object, opening up instead a reflexive connection between the user and the work through the revelation of the poetic moment. Of Ronchamp Couturier writes, “A truly sacred edifice is not a secular one made sacred by a rite of consecration or by the eventual use to which it is put; it is sacred in its very substance, made so by the quality of its forms.”28

  1. Le Corbusier, The Chapel at Ronchamp (New York: Frederick A. Praeger Publishers, 1957) 25.
  2. Mircea Eliade, “The Sacred and the Modern Artist,” in The Religious Imagination in Modern and Contemporary Architecture: A Reader edited by Renata Hejduk and Jim Williamson (New York: Routledge, 2011) 123.
  3. Marie-Alain Couturier, Sacred Art, trans. by William Granger Ryan (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1989) 157.
  4. Couturier, Sacred Art (1989) 42.
  5. Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, trans. by Frederick Etchells (New York: Dover Publications, 1986).
  6. Danièle Pauly, Le Corbusier: The Chapel at Ronchamp (Basel, Birkhauser, 2008) 96 from Le Corbusier, Œuvre Complète, vol VI (Zurich: Editions Girsberger, 1957) 11.
  7. “Make no mistake about it: in the greatest periods, art is not decoration, it is a language and nothing else. Even when it is expressed in very difficult terms.” Couturier, Sacred Art (1989) 97.
  8. Couturier, Sacred Art (1989) 16.
  9. Pauly, Le Corbusier (2008) 91 from Prècisions sur un état present de l’architecture et de l’urbanisme, (Paris: Crès, 1930) 132.
  10. Le Corbusier, Le Poeme de l’Angle Droit (Paris: Tériade, 1955) Milieu A.1 translated by Richard Moore.
  11. Niklas Maak, Le Corbusier: The Architect on the Beach (Munich: Hirmer Verlag GmbH, 2011) 26.
  12. For more on Le Corbusier’s reading of Valery, see Maak, Le Corbusier: The Architect on the Beach (2011).
  13. Danìéle Pauly, Le Corbusier (2008) 72.
  14. Cathryn Vasseleu, Textures of Light: Vision and Touch in Irigaray, Levinas and Merleau-Ponty (London: Routledge, 1998) 43.
  15. Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968) 132-33.
  16. Le Corbusier, The Chapel at Ronchamp (1957) 27.
  17. Couturier, Sacred Art (1989) 48.
  18. Le Corbusier, The Chapel at Ronchamp (1957) 103.
  19. Robert Coombs, Mystical Themes in Le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle (Queenston, Ontario: Edwin Mellon Press, 2000) 22.
  20. Le Corbusier, Journey to the East trans. by Ivan Zaknic (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1987) 202-206.
  21. Le Corbusier, Sketchbooks Vol. 3 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1981) sketch 492.
  22. Flora Samuel, Le Corbusier: Architect and Feminist (West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons, 2004) 128.
  23. Le Corbusier, Modulor I and II trans. by Peter de Francia and Anna Bostock (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980) 224.
  24. Le Corbusier, The Chapel at Ronchamp (1957) 46.
  25. Karsten Harries, The Meaning of Modern Art (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968) 15.
  26. Le Corbusier, Le Poème de l’Angle Droit (1955) Milieu A.3.
  27. Frances C. Lonna, diary, 1998 in Alberto Perez-Gomez, Built Upon Love: Architectural Longing After Ethics and Aesthetics (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006) 204.
  28. Couturier, Sacred Art (1989) 154.

The author is currently practicing and pursuing professional licensure at Kliment Halsband Architects in New York. She received her Master of Architecture degree from McGill University, and her research addresses the relationship between light, vision, and architectural intention. She recently presented a study of light in early modern Catholic architecture at the 2016 Society of Architectural Historians International Conference in Pasadena, California.

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