For most of the 20th century, Lucien Hervé was unlike any other. The French-Hungarian photographer made beauty out of the urban spaces and boldly attempted to visualize the these expanses in two-dimensional photography.
From 1910 to 1928, Hervé grew up shunning the bourgeois lifestyle that his family had become accustomed to. He first learned classic Greek wrestling and threw himself into competitions. His experience with the sport developed his competitive nature. At the time where Pictorialism was still popular, Hervé challenged the norms and went for the documentary approach which helped him discover his feelings for the collective humanity and his observations of their behavior.
Hervé first worked as a bank clerk in Parisian haute couture companies, before landing a job as a photographer in the art periodical Marianne. This would, however, prove to be short-lived as he switches to become a military photographer during World War II. He later had to escape from the Gestapo and joined a resistance, abandoning his original name László Elkán to Lucien Herve.
As a photographer, he produced remarkable images of monumental buildings, especially the ones built by the legendary architect, Le Corbusier. Keen to fill in blank, negative black and white spaces, Herve peppered his shots with evidence of human life. A passerby provides a sense of scale and dynamism, adding a clear contrast of darkness and light. Herve sought architectural places where there was the presence of the living, and his stunning black and white series is a testament to his impeccable eye — not just for people — but to breathtakingly beautiful geometric urban forms.
Visit the display Géométrie de la lumière at the Jeu de Paume in Paris, running through May 27.
Images are from the press kit.