Mystical Themes in Le Corbusier’s Architecture in the Chapel Notre-Dame-Du-Haut at Ronchamp: The Ronchamp Riddle

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This is a study of the great 20th century architect’s most controversial work after World War II: Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp. The work reveals Le Corbusier’s Cubist interweaving of metaphysical themes. Through fusion of visual motifs and symbolism in a figure-ground system, le Corbusier was able to integrate multiple Christian, heretical and hermetic iconography systems in his composition. This monograph reveals the various mystical strands of the Ronchamp riddle. It investigates earlier influences, Marian imagery, alchemical sources, Catharism and neo-Catharism, numerological and geometrical systems.
With many illustrations.


“Few modern interpreters of Le Corbusier’s famous chapel at Ronchamp, France, have unlocked its sundry mysteries as well as has Robert Coombs in his volume treating ‘The Ronchamp Riddle’. As fantastic as Coombs’ arguments seem at times, they nonetheless form a persuasive whole, and help both the novice and the seasoned student of art to discover new riches in this famous yet enigmatic chapel. Coombs builds his argument from materials found in Le Corbusier’s library, architectural sketches, and family ancestry. Of special value is Coombs’ discussion of how Le Corbusier used designs from the two previous chapels at Ronchamp to guide the designing of this third chapel on the site. . . . Coombs does a commendable job of helping readers discover answers to ‘the Ronchamp Riddle’ through a drama of light and form. He helps bring to life the subtle levels of meaning to be found in Le Corbusier’s Chapel Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp.” – Daven M. Kari

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
A Marian Mystery Play
Ghosts of Ronchamp Past and Echoes from the Hole Land?
Sun and Moon
From the Tomb
Le Corbusier’s Cathar Grail?
Divine Number
Sacred Geometry
Selected Bibliography; Index; Notes.

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