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Le Corbusier & Lucien Hervé

The Architect & The Photographer - A Dialogue

Jacques Sbriglio

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The story of the creative collaboration between two groundbreaking modernists


In 1949 the photographer Lucien Hervé took photographs of Unité d’Habitation, an innovative apartment building in Marseille. He sent them to the building’s architect, Le Corbusier, who immediately realised that after forty years of searching he had finally found a photographer with an ‘architect’s soul’, one who could capture both the form and the spirit of his work, and he asked Hervé to be his official photographer. This book tells the story of the creative collaboration between these two groundbreaking modernists, which ended only with the architect's death in 1965.

Their seminal collaboration is extensively documented in this album of 1200 of Hervé’s carefully edited, sequenced and labelled contact prints, housed at the Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris. The database of architectural images became the source from which the two men selected appropriate photographs for Corbusier's books, articles and lectures, as well as the numerous press requests he received. Originating as a vehicle for dissemination of the architect's work and as a commercial venture for the photographer, these contact sheets now form an extraordinary archive of modernist architecture and photography in the mid-twentieth century. A selection of these remarkable prints is being published in this volume for the first time.

In their introductory essays, Quentin Bajac and Béatrice Andrieux describe the two men’s collaborative process and the productive – if occasionally stormy – dynamic of their relationship, which was grounded in a shared belief that the moral and aesthetic virtues of modern architecture are inseparable.

In the book's main section, Jacques Sbriglio presents sixteen of Corbusier’s most iconic buildings, using Hervé’s contact sheets as visual references. The architect’s innovative structures and materials are highlighted by Hervé’s dynamic and expressive perspectives, sharp contrasts of black and white, and frequent close-ups of structural details and textures. The viewer’s eye, moving across the sheets, gradually discovers forms, defined spaces, and the play of light and shadow – the cinematic dimension inherent in Le Corbusier’s architecture.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 25.0 x 34.8 cm

Extent: 296 pp

Publication date: 10 October 2011

ISBN: 9780500342725

Contents List

Introduction – Quentin Bajac, Expressing Architecture • Introduction – Béatrice Andrieux, The Encounter between Two Visionaries of Modernity • The Apartment Building on rue Nungesser-et-Coli, Paris, France, 1931 • Unité d’habitation, Marseille, France, 1945 • The Claude & Duval Factory, Saint-Dié, France, 1946 • Chapel of Notre-Dame- du-Haut, Ronchamp, France, 1950 • Maisons Jaoul, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, 1951 • Millowners’ Association Building, Ahmadabad, India, 1951 • Villa Shodhan, Ahmadabad, India, 1951 • High Court of Justice, Chandigarh, India, 1952 • Secretariat, Chandigarh, India, 1952 • Parliament Building, Chandigarh, India, 1955 • Unité d’habitation, Nantes-Rezé, France, 1950 • Pavillon Suisse, Cité universitaire de Paris, France, 1930 • Pavillon du Brésil, Cité universitaire de Paris, France, 1953 • Monastery of La Tourette, Éveux, France, 1953 • Philips Pavilion, Exposition universelle, Brussels, Belgium, 1958 • The Cabin, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, 1951

About the Author

Jacques Sbriglio is professor of architectural theory and projects at the École nationale superieure d’architecture de Marseille-Luminy.

Quentin Bajac is The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

List of Contributors

Quentin Bajac, Béatrice Andrieux, Michel Richard