Le Corbusier's musings on black culture, especially music, is one of the lesser known aspects of his life. Here is a list of ten things about Le Cobusier and black culture that you probably never learned while in architecture school.
1. Le Corbusier dated jazz extraordinaire Josephine Baker.
Le Corbusier met Josephine Baker aboard the Giuulio Cesare cruise ship while returning from South America. He wrote in his diary, "In a ridiculous music hall in Sao Paolo, Josephine Baker sang, "Baby" with such an intense and dramatic sensibility, that I was moved to tears".
Unfortunately, Baker was not as interested in Le Corbusier. What a shame you’re an architect, you would have made a great partner, she is reported to have said.
“LeCorbusier’s intimate friendship with Josephine Baker helped him to appreciate the character of the American woman and that of the African American, at one descended from a nearly culture and yet also inextricably a part of the new world. By the 1930’s he was predisposed to look upon African America culture as a more noble one." 
2. Le Corbusier appeared in Blackface and Cross-Dress
Le Corbusier's cross-dressing episodes are disputed by his estate, but are documented in a variety of sources such as Marjorie B. Garber's, "Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing and Cultural Anxiety", where Garber says while in the company of Josephine Baker, aboard the Ship Lutetia in 1929, "...The architect Le Corbusier dressed as Josephine Baker, his skin blackened, his hips circled with a waistband of feathers."
In Will Alsop's book, "Will Alsop - The Noise", speaking of Le Corbusier he writes:
...I also came to learn that the relationship between his painting and architectural activities, like his reputed penchant for cross-dressing, was separated by a work regimen divided by the two halves of the day - Le Corbusier spending the morning painting, and dressing for the part, and the afternoon, assuming more formal grab and donning his trademark bow tie, working as an architect".
3. Le Corbusier Believed African Americans Were Primitive?
After Paris decided not to implement his ambitious schemes for urban renewal aimed at liberating the working class, Le Corbusier switched the intended inhabitants of his grand schemes to African Americans.
"Le Corbusier believed that unlike other groups in American society, blacks were predisposed to change. He endorsed the widely held European belief that they were more primitive, more unspoiled, more noble and open to new ideas. In reality, he believed, these Americans had the most to gain by chance and renewal." 
4. America's Unfair Treatment of African Americans
Le Corbusier, through his personal relationship with Josephine Baker and travels to America, learned of the injustices faced by African Americans in the United States. He once wrote, "Americans are eminently democratic - except about Negroes and that is a very grave question which cannot be resolved in a superficial way" - LeCorbusier 
5. Le Corbusier and Negrophilia.
The word negrophilia is derived from the French négrophilie which means the love of the negro. It was a term that avant-garde artist used among themselves during the 1920s to describe their passion for black culture. During this period of negrophilie, Le Corbusier was infatuated with jazz music, more specifically Josephine Baker and African Art, and
Le Corbusier assigned special significance to African Americans because they were part of the underclass, because their own cultural heritage had helped to shape the development of modernism, and because their present folk culture synthesized the modern and the ancient. In Paris, LeCorbusier had been influenced by avant-garde [Neogrophiliacs] interest in African Art. 
6. Black Music Crosses Race and Class Boundaries
"In spite of the implacable color line, through his music, the Negro has entered the chapel of hearts and through his music, the whole fashionable world of balls and drawing rooms - from the working girl to the millionaires daughter - is delighted." 
7. Le Corbusier's Racially Charged Ballet for Josephine Baker
Le Corbusier, despite his personal relationship with Josephine Baker, was not able to remove himself from spreading the racial stereotypes faced by her and many other African Americans. In a racially charged ballet written for Josephine Baker, Le Corbusier exposes some dark perspectives on black life, which possibly describes his first time meeting Josephine Baker and his attempt to modernize and date her.
Oval cylinder // one could also eliminate the cylinder completely 1. entrance 2. showgirls made up with tattoos sound: one step or pure negro tam tam without music only on negro on stage // 1 negro wearing a banana tree // 3. a modern man and woman + New York dancing only 1 step holding each other and slowly 4. the cylinder is lowered Josephine descends dressed as a monkey 5. she puts on a modern dress she sits down 6. goes forward on a podium, sings 7. steps off the podium, sings 8. last solemn song; the gods rise // background meandering sea of Santos and at the end a big ocean liner
8. Le Corbusier Suggested The Intersection of Black Music and Architecture
"Negro music has touched America because it is the melody of the soul joined with the rhythm of the machine. It is in two-part time: tears in the heart; movement of the legs, torso, arms and head. The music of an era of construction; innovating. It floods the body and heart; it floods the USA and it floods the world."
Le Corbusier adds, "Jazz, like the skyscrapers, is an event and not a deliberately conceived creation. They represent the forces of today. The jazz is more advanced than the architecture. If architecture were at the point reach by jazz, it would be an incredible spectacle." 
9. Nude Sketches of Josephine Baker
Le Corbusier;s nude sketches of Josephine Baker are valued between $8,000 - $12,000.
10. 1925 Le Corbusier Criticism Predicts The Birth of Hip Hop Culture
Le Corbusier’s plan received its fair share of criticisms preventing it from becoming nothing more than a mere vision during his life time. The review of Le Corbusier’s schemes published in the French architectural magazine, L’Architecte, presents an argument which speaks to the uncertainty of the sociological consequences of Le Corbusiers high density, machine like architecture on its' inhabitants.
“Is the next generation really destined to pass its existence in these immense geometrical barracks, living in standardized mass production houses with mass production furniture. Their games, and by that I mean their recreations, are all based on the same model…Poor Creatures! What will they become in the midst of all this dreadful speed, this organization, this terrible uniformity? So much logic taken to its extreme limits, so much “science”, so much of the “mechanical” everywhere present and challenging one on every page and claiming its insolent triumph on every possible occasion. Here is enough to disgust one for ever with “standardization” and to make one long for disorder.” 
Hip hop was born in the low income housing projects of the South Bronx. The culture is a cultural reaction to monotonous structures and the political, social and economic deprivations instituted within their walls.
About The Author
Michael Ford is a Detroit born architectural designer, educator and lecturer who focuses on the intersection of architecture and hip hop culture. Ford's current Hip Hop Architecture lecture tour has made stops at schools of architecture around the country including Harvard University's Graduate School of Design, University of Detroit Mercy's School of Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign's School of Architecture, and Syracuse University.
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 " " 226. Print.
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 Bacon, Mardges. "Le Corbusier's Reaction to the "Country of Timid People"" Le Corbusier in America: Travels in the Land of the Timid. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2001. 220. Print.
 Bacon, Mardges. "Le Corbusier's Reaction to the "Country of Timid People"" Le Corbusier in America: Travels in the Land of the Timid. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2001. 226.
 Corbusier, Le. "Funereal Spirit." When the Cathedrals Were White: A Journey to the County of Timid People. Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 1947. 156-61. Print.
 Corbusier, Le. "Newpaper Cuttings and Catchwords." The City of To-morrow and Its Planning. New York: Dover, 1987. 133. Print.