Lucien Hervé Finds Humanity In Le Corbusier’s Concrete

Le Corbusier once asked Hervé how he became a photographer - “with a pair of scissors” - he replied.

The photographer Lucien Hervé ( (born László Elkán on 7 August 1910 in Hungary, died 26 June 2007 in Paris) is best known for his work with the Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier (6 October 1887 – 27 August 1965). Hervé’s precise black and white images of illuminated buildings evoke a magical and progressive metropolis, highlighting intriguing forms in the every day. Architecture is in your face, and Hervé shows us what we can miss by cropping the big view into snippets: the curve of an arch; the shadow cast on a wall; the urban landscape’s sharp lines. Humanity, wherever it appears in his work, seems to merge with the concrete. He manages to express the space with the only tension between shadow and light.

 

Secrétariat, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier) 1961 Lucien Hervé

Secrétariat, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier)
1961

 

Lucien Hervé came to photography by a circuitous route. Born in Hungary, he studied fine art in Vienna and moved to Paris in the early 1930s to work in fashion, then joined the French Communist Party. In 1939, he was drafted as a military photographer, but was captured by the Nazis and sent to prison, where he became very active in the Résistance.

After the war Hervé left politics behind to write for art journals. It was one of his editors, in fact, who suggested he visit Unité d’habitation. Hervé began experimenting with photography, over- or underexposing images or severely cropping them to attain unusual compositions. He followed the work of avant-garde artists such as Piet Mondrian, László Moholy-Nagy, and Alexander Rodchenko, whose stark geometry and abstracted forms enabled him to recognize the same in Le Corbusier’s designs.

When Le Corbusier later asked Hervé how he became a photographer, he replied, “with a pair of scissors.”

Hervé photographed from multiple vantage points to portray the experience of walking through Le Corbusier’s buildings and create “cinematic visual experiences unfolding over time.”

Getty

 

Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France (architecte : Le Corbusier) 1949 Lucien Hervé

Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France (architecte : Le Corbusier)
1949

Plage années 1960 Lucien Hervé

Plage
Années 1960

Mantes-la-Jolie, France 1947 Lucien Hervé

Mantes-la-Jolie, France
1947

L’Escurial, Espagne 1959 Lucien Hervé

L’Escurial, Espagne
1959

Parthénon, Athènes, Grèce 1961 Lucien Hervé

Parthénon, Athènes, Grèce
1961

L’Accusateur, Delhi, Inde 1955

L’Accusateur, Delhi, Inde
1955

Chantier naval, Barcelone, Espagne 1959 Lucien Hervé

Chantier naval, Barcelone, Espagne
1959

UNESCO, Paris, France (architectes : Marcel Breuer, Pier Luigi Nervi, Bernard Zehrfuss) 1955 Lucien Hervé

UNESCO, Paris, France (architectes : Marcel Breuer, Pier Luigi Nervi, Bernard Zehrfuss)
1955

Guichets du Louvre, Paris, France 1948 Lucien Hervé

Guichets du Louvre, Paris, France
1948

Tour Eiffel, Paris, France 1944 Lucien Hervé

Tour Eiffel, Paris, France
1944

P.S.Q.F. (Paris Sans Quitter ma Fenêtre) 1947 Lucien Hervé

P.S.Q.F. (Paris Sans Quitter ma Fenêtre)
1947

Cathédrale, Brasilia, Brésil (architecte : Oscar Niemeyer) 1961 Lucien Hervé

Cathédrale, Brasilia, Brésil (architecte : Oscar Niemeyer)
1961

Mill Owner’s Association, Ahmedabad, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier) 1955 Lucien Hervé

Mill Owner’s Association, Ahmedabad, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier)
1955

Le Corbusier et le Modulor à l’unité d’habitation, Marseille, France 1952 Lucien Hervé

Le Corbusier et le Modulor à l’unité d’habitation, Marseille, France
1952

Ouvriers, Secrétariat (architecte : Le Corbusier), Chandigarh, Inde 1955 Lucien Hervé

Ouvriers, Secrétariat (architecte : Le Corbusier), Chandigarh, Inde
1955

Secrétariat, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier) 1961 Lucien Hervé

Secrétariat, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier)
1961

Observatoire, Delhi, Inde 1955 Lucien Hervé

Observatoire, Delhi, Inde
1955

Observatoire, Jaïpur, Inde 1955 Lucien Hervé

Observatoire, Jaïpur, Inde
1955

Centre du Congrès, Bienne, Suisse (architecte : Max Schlupp) 1964 Lucien Hervé

Centre du Congrès, Bienne, Suisse (architecte : Max Schlupp)
1964

Haute Cour, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier) 1955 Lucien Hervé

Haute Cour, Chandigarh, Inde (architecte : Le Corbusier)
1955

 

Lucien Hervé Geometry of light at the Jeu De Paume, Paris.