In the 1950s, after India gained independence from Britain, Le Corbusier was commissioned to design an entire city, from all the doorknobs in the High Court to the stools and desks at the College of Architecture. The capital of Punjab, Chandigarh is Le Corbusier’s masterpiece (his self-described “crowing work”) and for several years, its modernist buildings, furniture, monuments and fixtures have fallen into disrepair and become prey to the international art market. Hundreds of desks, chairs, fixtures and drawings have fetched thousands of dollars at auctions in Europe and the U.S.: $54,000 for a pair of chairs; $21,000 for a manhole cover; $36,000 for a concrete light fixture from the Chandigarh zoo. On March 31, Chicago’s Wright auction house is set to sell several pieces by Pierre Jeanneret, Le Corbusier’s cousin and assistant in Chandigarh. Chandigarh’s attempts to stall the auction have been unsuccessful. A recent Guardian article reported that Chandigarh’s first chief architect and former Le Corbusier assistant, Manmohan Nath Sharma, started an international movement to stop the pillage of the modernist city, and the Chandigarh administration is seeking World Heritage Site status from UNESCO. But in case its unsuccessful, you might want to check it out before bits and bobs end up in the fancy living rooms of rabid collectors.
03.25.2011 | by: Kelly