Above photo: TWA Flight Center, New York, designed by Eero Saarinen, 1962. Photo: Balthazar Korab.
I am an architect with a passion for nature’s lessons and man’s interventions.
– Balthazar Korab
Balthazar Korab was one of America’s leading Post World War II architectural photographers who worked in a time when the Modernists were reshaping the American landscape. Born in Hungary in 1926 Korab moved to France after fleeing from Hungary’s communist government in 1949. While in France he studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, earning his diploma in architecture. In 1954 he worked for a brief period as a journeyman under Le Corbusier.
In 1955, Korab arrived in the United States where he quickly found work with noted designer and architect Eero Saarinen, who employed him to photograph the design process. This partnership would result in what is arguably some of Korab’s finest work.
Korab’s photographs often contain poignant reminders that architecture is not a solitary monument onto itself but holds broader cultural and social circumstances. Korab understood that beyond the formal purpose of architectural photography’s presenting an often pristine structure in sharp light and deep shadows, the primary purpose of that building is to serve those who live in and use it. This is perhaps why Korab was never shy about putting people, often front and center, in his work. In fact sometimes the people in a Korab photo are the more interesting subjects.
Korab died on January 15th, 2013 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. He once said, “I am an architect with a passion for nature’s lessons and man’s interventions.” This is beautifully captured in the romance, moodiness, and humanity of his photography. Korab’s work shows that Modernism – so often seen as austere and cold – is, like all architecture, a human experience.