Lucien Hervé (b. 1910) is considered to be one of the great architectural photographers of the twentieth century. He collaborated with Le Corbusier from 1949 until the architect’s death in 1965, with whom he had a great rapport, and who pronounced him to have 'the soul of an architect'. In 1949 he travelled form Paris to Marseille to see Corbusier’s Unit´d'habitation, a housing complex designed by him. Awed by the groundbreaking modern design, Hervé took 650 photographs of it in a single day and from then onwards they worked closely with one another.
"Hervé approached his subjects seeking not only to document the buildings he was commissioned to photograph but also, especially, to convey a sense of space, texture, and structure."
- Olivier Beer
Hervé approached his subjects seeking not only to document the buildings he was commissioned to photograph but also, especially, to convey a sense of space, texture, and structure.
Through light and shadow, he defined the dialogue between substance and form. By delineating a strong contrast between light and shadow as well as placing emphasis on building details, the photographer was able to communicate the depth of a room, the surface of a wall, or the strength of a building's framework.
Born in 1910 in Hungary, Lucien Hervé (b. Laszlo Elkan) moved to Paris aged 19 and earned French citizenship in 1938. During World War II he was captured by the Germans, escaped and became a member of the French Resistance under the name of Lucien Hervé, which he kept thereafter. 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 following the work of avant-garde artists such as Piet Mondrian, László Moholy-Nagy, and Alexander Rodchenko.