Artists' other endeavors

It is always fascinating to see how a major figure in the arts acquits himself in another area. Thus we pay special attention to the poetry of Michelangelo, the drawings of Victor Hugo, the paintings of Arnold Schoenberg, and the plays of Pablo Picasso. We are also intrigued by what happens when sculptors paint, printmakers turn to photography, and architects decide to try their hand at oils.

Among the best known of those whose talents ranged far and wide was Le Corbusier (1887-1965). Not only was he one of the two or three greatest architects of the century, he was also a painter and sculptor of note and a draftsman of uncommon ability.

Proof of the latter can be found in the Prakapas Gallery's small but excellent exhibition of his works on paper here. Although most of the pictures on view are small, are executed in ink, pencil, and collage, and occasionally appear somewhat tentative, they project the same aura of power, order, and monumentality we've come to admire in his buildings and paintings. Even at their most subtle - and a few of his drawings are as delicately crafted as those by Paul Klee - it is perfectly clear that Le Corbusier was primarily interested in how forms most perfectly fit together, in how monumentality can be achieved by a perfect interrelationship of parts.

With few exceptions, his compositions at the Prakapas Gallery are ''abstract, '' and those that are not depict human figures, heads, hands, etc., in a highly simplified, shorthand manner. A few resemble Leger's ink and pencil studies or Guston's last paintings - but without the former's rhythmic elegance or the latter's agonizing subjectivity.

What passion there is - and there is a great deal of it - is directed toward formal resolutions rather than toward the explosive or the emotionally exploitative. Even his boldest, most aggressive forms remain firmly embedded within the flat picture plane. But then, that should not surprise us, considering his profound involvement with Purism and other highly disciplined modernist formal ideals.

At the Prakapas Gallery, 19 East 71st Street, through Dec. 1.

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