In mid-1947, Le Corbusier started on his eight-year-long work on his masterpiece of graphic art: the “Poème de l’angle droit”, a portfolio of works printed by Mourlot Frères and as much the summit as also a concentration of LC’s world of thought and images. The work comprises 19 full-page color lithographs, which Mourlot transferred from LC’s collages onto stone by hand – “Le Corbusier a exécuté plusieurs lithos originales pour illustrer le texte écrit à la main”, wrote Mourlot.
The “Poème” was ordered by the legendary Parisian publisher Stratis Eleftheriades, known as Tériade; he published it in 1955. He had previously published similarly large-scale portfolios in his Editions Verve: 1947 “Jazz” by Matisse, “Le chant des morts” (1948), by Pierre Reverdy and Pablo Picasso, as well as “Cirque” by LC’s close friend Fernand Léger (1950).
The “Poème” has 150 pages and is divided into seven chapters. The 19 full-paged lithographs illustrate LC’s view of the world and nature and of humanity’s place in these – the “Modulor” for example stands for the connection between nature, architecture, and the cosmos in the second chapter titled “Esprit”. The edition was made up of 250 portfolios meant to be sold, and 20 further exemplars hors commerce, all of them numbered in the publisher’s impress and hand-signed. Furthermore, Tériade also published a collector’s edition – a suite of the 19 full-page illustrations in 60 special editions with somewhat larger format. Le Corbusier signed and numbered each of the 19 works of all 60 portfolios.