Lucien Hervé

Lucien Hervé (1910-2007) is considered to be one of the great architectural photographers of the 20th century.  He collaborated with Le Corbusier from 1949 until the architect’s death in 1965, developping a great rapport. Le Corbusier even once pronounced Hervé to have 'the soul of an architect.' In 1949, Hervé travelled from Paris to Marseille to see Le Corbusier’s recently designed housing complex, Unité d'Habitation. Awed by the groundbreaking modern design, Hervé took 650 photographs of it in a single day and it was from then onwards they worked closely with one another.


Through light and shadow, he defined the dialogue between substance and form. By delineating a strong contrast between the light and shadows in his subject as well as placing emphasis on building details, Hervé was able to communicate the depth of a room, the surface of a wall, or the strength of a building's framework.


Born 1910 in Hungary, Hervé (born László Elkán) moved to Paris at the age of 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 he 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 and often severely cropping them to attain unusual compositions following the work of avant-garde artists such as Piet MondrianLászló Moholy-Nagyand Alexander Rodchenko.



"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