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This image is an illustration from the book Poème de L’Angle Droit (Poem of the Right Angle) by architect and painter Le Corbusier (Charles-Edouard Janneret-Gris) (1887-1965). The book is preoccupied with angles and proportion. The right angle formed the basis of Le Corbusier’s use of proportion in his architecture until 1928. He first gained recognition for his architectural manifesto, Vers une Architecture (Towards a New Architecture) in 1923, in which he advocated pure form and geometry. Le Corbusier continued to influence new architecture and town planning through his development of the Modulor between 1943 and 1955, which was a system of mathematical proportion using the Golden Section applied to the height of a human (with one arm upraised) and an attempt at reaching a standardization of dimensions in Europe. Poème de l'Angle Droit (1947-1953) was published in Paris in 1955 and is a collection of 20 lithographs and poems written by Le Corbusier, in which he explores man's relation to the cosmos. Some of the poem's emblematic images appear in his later architecture and are also reflected in his use of light, shadow, and water in architecture.Poet and scholar Walter Strachan (1903-1994) was fascinated by the art of the book. His interest was inspired by a visit to an exhibition of artists’ books at the National Gallery in London in May 1945. In due course he wrote many articles on the subject, as well as a major reference work, The Artist and the Book in France (published 1969); he also encouraged successive Keepers of the National Art Library at the V&A “to buy them for England.” To this end he visited France every year, to meet the artists, and acquired proof pages to illustrate his articles and to show to potential purchasers of the books, including the V&A. Over the years he amassed a collection of images of owls; some of these were illustrations from livres d’artistes, and others were designed especially for him as gifts or greetings. The collection of owls began with a visit to the artist Roger Chastel (1897-1981) in 1952, where he witnessed the printing of Le Bestiaire de Paul Eluard. In a subsequent article (“Genesis and Growth of a Collection”, for Connoisseur, 1972) he explained: “My article on Chastel’s Bestiaire had the happy result of bringing me a special print on Auvergne paper of the owl which I had admired in the book. Contacts in the art-world of Paris are close and friendly, and I was marked down as an owl-man, in consequence of which I have gradually been given dedicated owl prints and originals in every medium from pen and ink to enamel…” Strachan owned a copy of Poème de l.angle droit.
MEDIUM: Colour lithograph on paper