In 1991, the Scottish artist Peter Doig (b. 1959) visited Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation in northeast France, a utopian housing project that had opened in 1961 in Briey-en-Fôret, then been abandoned.
To Doig, the project was a temple of hope laid to ruin, and the nine large-scale canvases it inspired — Doig’s seminal ‘Concrete Cabins’ series, the largest and most distinctive cycle in Doig’s oeuvre — became a meditation on the decay of Le Corbusier’s modernist vision of social cohesion.
Boiler House was first exhibited in Salzburg after Doig had won the Eliette von Karajan prize in 1994, and was included in Doig’s 2008 retrospective at Tate Britain. It stands alone within the cycle, an isolated building in the forest.
Depicting the building designed to house the estate’s coal boiler, it is rendered in fluid trails of impasto, and carries a stark anthropomorphic charge, the angular geometries looming large through a screen of trees, shifting in and out of focus like a memory or fragments from a movie reel.
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