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Lucien Hervé photographs of architecture and artworks by Le Corbusier, 1949-1965

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Lucien Hervé photographs of architecture and artworks by Le Corbusier

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection presents the work of Le Corbusier, the influential artist, thinker, and pioneering Modernist architect, as seen through the lens of photographer Lucien Hervé. Hervé was chosen by Le Corbusier to be his official photographer in 1949, a role Hervé maintained until the architect's death in 1965. Le Corbusier felt that there was no photographer who better understood his architecture than Hervé, and therefore commissioned him to document both the new buildings he designed and built in the 1950s and 1960s, and older ones completed before World War II. The collection includes images of executed buildings, unrealized architectural designs, portraits, and Le Corbusier's non-architectural works, including his sketches, notes, paintings, and sculptures.

Series I contains photographic negatives, transparencies, and slides documenting 119 of Le Corbusier's architectural projects. It includes the 650 negatives of L'Unité d'habitation à Marseille shot by Hervé in December 1949; his striking images of the Chapelle Notre-Dame-du-Haut de Ronchamp; and his extensive documentation of Le Corbusier's multiple structures in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, India. This matieral not only serves as a record of Hervé's photographic practice, but also inherently demonstrates the role Hervé played in Le Corbusier's attempt to document his own legacy. Some of the negatives in this series are copy negatives (predominantly glass plates) produced in the 1920s and 1930s by the various photographers previously employed by Le Corbusier. Hervé's work copying these images, labeling them and compiling them chronologically by project, shows us the level at which he and the architect were mutually committed to creating a comprehensive visual archive.

Le Corbusier sought the services of many photographers throughout his career. The following is a list of those known to have documented his work, followed by the dates they are known to have produced images for Le Corbusier. This series contains Hervé's copies of original negatives by some or all of the following photographers:

Frédéric Boissonnas (1924-1928); Charles Gérard (1924-1928); Thiriet (1928-1930); Marius Gravot (1930-1933); René Lévy (1934); Albin Salaun (1934 to late 1940s); Jacques Thalmann; the brothers Chevojon; Marius Car; Louis Sciarli; Vittorio Mazzucconi; Brassaï; Robert Doisneau; René Burri; Sigfried Giedion; Frank-Henri Jullien; and René Maestri.

Series II contains Hervé's images of Le Corbusier's life and work, extending beyond the scope of his architectural practice. It documents Le Corbusier's artwork, often depicting his sketches and paintings shot individually in the studio at 24 rue Nungesser-et-Coli, Paris; "on site" elements of architectural projects such as Le Modulor imprinted in concrete at L'Unité d'habitation à Nantes-Rezé and the tapestries and murals of Chandigarh, and artwork shot on site at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. Both Le Corbusier's cabanon and E-1027, and the art they contained, are well documented. It includes Hervé's portraits of Le Corbusier, from fleeting moments captured during site visits, to formal portrait sessions, to intimate images of Le Corbusier, his wife Yvonne, and friends vacationing by the sea at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. This series also includes images taken from Le Corbusier's notebooks (including those created during his travels through Europe in the early 1900s); documentation of exhibitions of Le Corbusier's work; and a small number of miscellaneous images and reference materials labeled "collections d'objets trouvés."

Similar to Series I, some of the negatives in Series II were not produced by Hervé. It contains original, pre-World War II negatives (photographers unknown), that are believed to have been acquired by Hervé through Le Corbusier, probably intentionally in order to have them added to Le Corbusier's overall "archive."

The black-and-white negatives in this collection were those used to produce the much-publicized contact sheets Hervé and Le Corbusier created as a visual archive of Le Corbusier's work. The Getty Research Institute maintains digital reproductions of these contact prints that are available online for consultation; the original contact sheets are held in the Fondation Le Corbusier, Paris, France. See Photographic reproductions of Lucien Hervé contact sheets [Photographed ca. 1950- ca. 1965; digitized 2009].

All dates enclosed in parentheses represent project dates, or the dates of the original material in the case of artworks and notebooks, and do not reflect specific dates of exposure or printing for this photographic material, as these dates remain undetermined.


This collection is arranged in two series: Series I. Architectural projects (1905-1968), 1949-1965; Series II. Artwork, portraits, and notebooks (1907-circa 1960), 1949-1965, undated.

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