Art and Culture 

Spain: Traveling to See the Already Seen

Juan José Lahuerta 

Le Corbusier visited Spain on four occasions. In 1928 he lectured in Madrid and Barcelona; in 1930 he toured the country by car – in his luxurious Voisin – with Pierre Jeanneret and Fernand Léger; in 1931, again in the Voisin and accompanied by Pierre, he drove along the Mediterranean coast and embarked for Tétouan en route to Algeria; and in 1932 he attended the conference of the Comité International pour la Résolution des Problèmes de l’Architecture Contemporaine (cirpac) in Barcelona and made a quick getaway to Majorca.

We are not going to discuss here the work that emerged from the 1932 visit – the Plan Macià project for Barcelona, begun in 1933; the housing project conceived under the slogan “A house, a tree,” also begun in 1933 for Barcelona; and the minimal sketches for the Hotel Formentor (1932). Rather, we will be concerned with the impressions that Le Corbusier recorded about Spain and its landscape. He noted them in his correspondence, in his notebooks, in interviews, and in the two articles he published about those trips: “Espagne,” on the 1928 trip, appeared in L’Intransigeant; and “Retours ... ou l’enseignement du voyage,” on the 1931 trip, appeared in Plans.

We also have an impression from the 1930 trip that, though written by Léger, echoes Le Corbusier’s own impressions from 1928 and prefigures those from 1931. Titled “Sur les routes d’Espagne,” Léger’s text, too, was published in L’Intransigeant, in the same section –“Voyages d’artistes” – in which Le Corbusier’s article had appeared two years earlier...

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