Lucien Hervé: connecting eye the journey as a source for intercultural dialogue

Imola Gebauer


Lucien Herve,  Le Corbusier's  photographer,  found  in his "world  tour" and several "tours de France" a source of creation. In 1961, he parted on his biggest (six-month long) journey to fulfil photographic commissions  for architects in the Mediterranean Basin, in Asia and in the Americas. This tour - with  some other shorter ones - led him  to discover and understand  diverse cultures, their modernity  and their con­ tribution   to  the  technical  and  artistic  development of  the  Western   societies and became  the  principal  source  of  his  reflexions and  exhibitions  in  the  following decades. Paralyzed by multiple  sclerosis from 1965 he wouldn't be able to undertake big trips anymore. 

His articles - most  of them  unknown today  -, published  in  the first illustrated professional magazines of the 1950s reveal the photographer's immediate impressions as well as the results of his deep studies on the countries and cultures visited, inviting his  public  to  follow  him   on   an  imaginary   journey. His  itinerant  exhibitions composed by himself initiated  a contemplative dialogue - a renewed, metaphorical journey - between these exotic places and the scenes of his "tours de France", that lasted more  than  30 years. In  his quest  to reveal a universal  human language he linked these distant and close 'terrae incognitae' and transfigured them.

This article focuses on the tour-experience as a fundamental resource of the oeuvre of the photographer. It proposes the study of commissioned  subjects as well as personal discoveries, of the shots on distant  cultures  beside those taken in France hoping  to understand  more this unique  photographic language.

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