This room bears the title of the manifesto published by Amédée Ozenfant and Le Corbusier in 1918, a founding document of the Purism movement. The decision to go beyond Cubism would be accompanied by compositional order, moving from the disintegrated nature of Cubism to a Purist constructive synthesis. The Bauhaus School, another major chapter in avant-garde design, would share with Purism the championing of a new functional architecture and practice that shunned decorative excess.
Le Corbusier is central to understanding Purism, and, in 1922, he reflected the nature of Purist architecture in the stand he designed for the Salon d'Automne in Paris, held inside the Grand Palais. He designed a large diorama with his Contemporary City for Three Million Inhabitants, an ideal vertical city which allowed land to be freed up and a return to nature. On either side of the diorama Maison Citrohan and Inmueble-Villa were presented— namely, individual and collective housing that would structure this new Le Corbusier-designed city.
Three years later, in 1925 and in conjunction with the International Exposition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, he would build the L’Esprit Nouveau Pavilion, a head-on confrontation with the very nature of the show as he dismantled any ornamental licence to advocate functional architecture built with reinforced concrete and steel. On the one hand, he built a cell of Inmueble-Villa exhibited in 1922, joining it to a double curved space in which he showed, through his customary diorama format, two large Le Corbusier-esque urban planning designs: the 1922 Contemporary City for Three Million Inhabitants, and the Plan Voisin, a new kind of geometric city in the centre of Paris that would replace the congested old centre.
Almost in parallel to the appearance of Aprés le cubisme, Walter Gropius founded Staatliche Bauhaus in Weimar. One of Bauhaus’s most original architectural creations was the total theatre Walter Gropius realised in 1927 — following the original idea of Hungarian artist and architect Andor Weininger — for Erwin Piscator. The latter, tired and frustrated with being unable to put his productions into practice due to their experimental nature, commissioned a building that would break from the traditional form based on Italian-style theatre and allow for the development of his ambitious notion of stage. To this end, he would entrust Gropius with the design of a building-machine that slotted in perfectly with the ideas fleshed out by the Bauhaus Theatre Workshop on account of it being fitted out with modern methods of lighting, sound and movement.
Mention of Bauhaus and theatre inevitably leads to the figure of Oskar Schlemmer, previously creator of the Triadic Ballet, and even to the foundation of Weymar’s school, the logo of which also bore the hallmark of the designer. Schlemmer’s proposed mise en scène kick-started a new way of exploring the relationship between the body and space, turning actors and personages into geometric sculptures and, in parallel, determining the space in which they moved.