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Culture & Press news – Embassy 15 – February 2009

The Ambassador and the Architect

There is something missing from the Swiss Ambassador's Residence. Where the imposing riot of colours of a Le Corbusier tapestry once hung, is now an empty wall.

That's because the Embassy has donated the treasure, entitled Presence II, to the Barbican for its exhibition on the Swiss-French artist, architect and pioneer of the International Style of modern architecture.

Launching the exhibition at his Residence, Ambassador Alexis Lautenberg revealed a personal connection with the artist. In 1956, his father gave him an original drawing made by Le Corbusier in 1953. It was the last gift his father gave him before he died.

On the drawing, there is a message with sage, if slightly puzzling, advice to the 11-year-old: "To fight the mills" which the Ambassador takes to mean that one has to stand for something; "Overthrowing Troy", urging him to challenge the establishment; and lastly, "To be ready to carry the load... Without money" – good advice in this economic climate.

In loaning official embassy art works for the exhibition, Ambassador Lautenberg follows the footsteps of departed US American Ambassador Robert Tuttle who loaned a rare Rothko for an exhibition at the Tate Modern.

Le Corbusier – The Art of Architecture continues at the Barbican until 24 May. For information visit: www.barbican.org.uk

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