05 Apr Sun Breakers – Jürgen Beck
Welcome to the fascinating E-1027, the modernist escape designed by Eileen Gray at the Côte d’Azur. No other house embodies architecture and design history, intimacy, shared creativity, and even toxic masculinity quite like E-1027.
The name E-1027 is a code created by Gray and her lover, Jean Badovici. The ‘E’ stands for Eileen, ’10’ for Jean, ‘2’ for Badovici, and ‘7’ for Gray. It was their way of showing their relationship as lovers. The flat-roofed modernist masterpiece is the built embodiment of that love, but shortly after its completion, the couple split. However, the end of their relationship was not the end of the story of this house.
Badovici was a close friend of Le Corbusier and invited him to the house on several occasions. One summer, Le Corbusier painted all over the flat white modernist walls, sometimes in the nude. The murals infuriated Gray, who saw them as outright vandalism. And many art historians agree and view Le Corbusier’s actions as a demonstration of domination, akin to a dog marking its territory. It is believed that Le Corbusier was jealous of the masterpiece, especially because it was designed by a woman. The house became an obsession of his, he even tried to purchase it many times but failed.
It’s impossible to identify the exact individual contributions of Gray or Badovici to this iconic piece of architecture. But for years, it was believed that Badovici was the sole mastermind, and some even thought that Le Corbusier had designed the house. A woman clearly could have not created such an archetype of modernist architecture, so the believe. So this house, meant to be a lovers’ hideaway, became a great example of misogyny in architecture and society.
Jürgen Beck’s photographs of the house in “Sun Breakers” capture the original concept of the house. Its intimacy, its expression of openness, its flexible structure to accommodate the rhythm of the days. He captures the overgrown paths that take him to the house, sun drenched walls and leafy shadows. Beck directs our eye to Gray’s design that takes into consideration people’s emotional needs.
In the words of Eileen Gray, “Formulas are nothing; life is everything.”