As a boy born in Budapest, Hungary, Balthazar Korab (1926-2013) drew pictures, studied music, and dreamed of becoming a painter. His parents lamented, if he must be an artist, do something respectable, become an architect. So he did—but not before German and Russian forces invaded his home country. Fleeing in 1944 he immigrated to Paris and, with no formal training, was accepted to the École des Beaux-Arts to study architecture. He soon earned employment with the firms of Backstrom & Reines, as well as Le Corbusier. In the 1950’s he moved to the US, where Balthazar was personally invited by Frank Lloyd Wright to work at Taliesen.
By 1955 he arrived to Michigan where he became a principal designer with Eero Saarinen & Associates in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Here he fell in love with Monica Wosinksi, who would become his lifelong business manager, wife and mother of two children. Soon enough Balthazar shifted from design and focused on photography, establishing himself not only as Saarinen’s documentarian but, as Balthazar’s biographer John Comazzi writes, he also became “responsible for the integration of photography in the design-development processes” of the entire firm’s creative output.
In 1958 Balthazar opened his studio as an independent photographer, and by 1964 Balthazar became the first photographer awarded the American Institute of Architect’s Gold Medal, establishing his vision alongside winners including his mentors Wright, Corbusier, and the Saarinens, and future clients like Frank Gehry, I.M. Pei, and Mies van Der Rohe.
Flash Forward to 1994, when U.S. President Clinton handpicks a dozen of Balthazar's prints as a national gift to Hungarian President Göncz; then to 2011, when the Library of Congress (LoC) acquires Balthazar's Film Collection, approximately 600,000 individual images.