Le Corbusier

The Open Hand

Le Corbusier often distilled his design philosophy into elemental symbols. The recurring forms found in the architect’s art and buildings were often inspired or directly generated by metaphor, symbol or figurative reference. The symbol of the open hand was one that Le Corbusier invented early in his career and became the emblem of the government of Chandigarh. Intended to symbolize “the hand to give and the hand to take; peace and prosperity, and the unity of mankind,” this icon spoke not only the ideology of the government, but the founding utopian principles upon which Le Corbusier created his master plan for this city. As a result, the open hand imagery appears frequently in a number of locations throughout the commission, including a monumental sculpture envisioned as its centerpiece.

The present lot features one cast metal sculpture and one hand carved teak sculpture by Rattan Singh for this iconic monument. The works were given to the architect Habib Rahman by personal friend Pierre Jeanneret in the 1960s and have remained in the Rahman family until now.