Lucien Hervé, photographer despite himself

Documentary about Le Corbusier´s personal photographer

November 2013
Belgian director Gerrit Messiaen’s awarded documentary ‘Lucien Hervé, Photographe Malgré lui’ tells the story of Le Corbusier’s personal photographer, his life in Paris and the spirit of modern times.
Lucien Hervé, photographer despite himself is a film about the essence of the work and life of one of the most important photographers of architecture of the 20th century. Lucien Hervé was the official photographer of the French architect Le Corbusier from 1949 until his death in 1965. He travelled the world with him, and Le Corbusier saw in Hervé “the soul of an architect”. Afterwards he worked for famous architects as Marcel Breuer, Oscar Niemeyer, Walter Gropius, Richard Neutra, Alvar Aalto, Luigi Nervi, Kenzo Tange, Henri Matisse and Fernand Léger.
In 1940 László Elkán, as he was born in 1910, fled Hungary escaping from an East-Prussian prisoner of war camp and joined the Résistance in Grenoble in 1941. Hervé took up his activities as a photographer in 1947. Two years later, he met Matisse and Le Corbusier during a photographic report on the construction of the Cité Radieuse’ in Marseille. This encounter marked the beginning of a long collaboration between Hervé and Le Corbusier, which ended only with Le Corbusier’s death in 1965. Lucien Hervé passed away on June 26th, 2007 in Paris, at the age of 96, leaving behind him a rich and unique photographic oeuvre.
In Gerrit Messiaen’s documentary, Hervé gives an insight into his artistic way of working as well as into his turbulent life.
©Lucien Hervé. Fireman stairs, Secretariat Building, 1958.
© Lucien Hervé. Conference Hall pillars, Conferences Building, 1957.
On the roof of Unité d'habitation of Nantes-Rezé, Gabriel Chéreau, José-Luis Sert, André Wogescky, Le Corbusier Photo - Lucien Hervé © FLC/ADAGP