Hungarian-born photographer Lucien Hervé took 650 shots of Le Corbusier’s “Unité d’habitation” in Marseille, allegedly all on a single day in 1949. After the architect saw them, he asked him to become the official photographer of his work and so he was until his death in 1965. The experimental crops and the over-exposed shots exacerbating the contrast between light and shadow instead of telling a unitarian structure, reveal step by step the experience of volumes and space of an observer walking through the building.
The complex and varied concrete textures are carefully underlined by the raking light which reveal the strong expressive charge which Le Corbusier obtained through the ingenious execution of the material.
A sense of tension is often encountered in the oblique views and is accentuated every time a human figure or a shadow crosses the path of the photographer to become a further element on the compositional process.
The work of Hervé seems to be a direct translation of Le Corbusier’s famous definition of architecture as “the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in
light” – which might just as well be a definition of photography (as argued by Adrian Forty in “Concrete and Culture. A material history“).
Le Corbusier / Lucien Hervé / Perre Jeanneret. Regards croisés, Marseille, Chandigarh. Galerie Guillaume Ingert