Lucien Clergue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lucien Clergue
Lucien Clergue, Kunsthaus Vienna, 2007.jpg
Lucien Clergue
on occasion of the retrospective, Vienna, 2007.
Born (1934-08-14)August 14, 1934
Arles, France
Nationality French
Occupation Photographer and Artist

Lucien Clergue (French: [klɛʁg]; born August 14, 1934) is a French photographer. He was Chairman of the Academy of Fine Arts, Paris for 2013.

Photographer Lucien Clergue in January 2013 (Photo: François Besch)


Lucien Clergue was born in Arles. From the age of 7, he learned to play the violin. Several years later, his teacher revealed to him that he had nothing more to teach him. From a family of shopkeepers, he could not pursue further studies in a conservatory. In 1949, he learned the rudiments of photography. Four years later, at a corrida in Arles, he showed his photographs to Pablo Picasso who, though subdued, demanded to see others. Within a year and a half, young Clergue worked with the goal of sending photos to Picasso. During this period, he worked on a series of photographs of traveling entertainers, acrobats and harlequins, the « Saltimbanques ». He also worked on a series whose subject was carrion.

Friendship with Picasso[edit]

On 4 November 1955, Lucien Clergue visited Picasso in Cannes. Their friendship lasted near 30 years until the death of the Master. The book, Picasso my friend retraces the important moments of their relation.

Rencontres d'Arles, 1975

Founding the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival[edit]

In 1968 he founded, along with his friend Michel Tournier the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival which is held in Arles in July. His works was presented during the festival from 1971–1973, 1975, 1979, 1982–1986, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1994, 2000, 2003, 2007.

Clergue has illustrated books, among these a book by writer Yves Navarre.

Clergue has taken many photographs of the gypsies of southern France, and he was instrumental in propelling the guitarist Manitas de Plata to fame.

Clergue’s photographs are in the collections of numerous well-known museums and private collectors. His photographs have been exhibited in over 100 solo exhibitions worldwide, with noted exhibitions such as 1961, Museum of Modern Art New York, the last exhibition organized by Edward Steichen with Lucien Clergue, Bill Brandt and Yasuhiro Ishimoto. Museums with extensive inventory of photographs by Lucien Clergue include The Fogg Museum at Harvard University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. His Work Fontaines du Grand Palais is in Museo cantonale d'arte of Lugano.[1] His photographs of Jean Cocteau are on permanent display at the Jean Cocteau Museum in Menton, France. In the US, the exhibition of photographs of Jean Cocteau was premiered by Westwood Gallery, New York City.[1]

In 2007, the city of Arles honored Lucien Clergue and dedicated a retrospective collection of 360 his photographs dating from 1953 to 2007. He also received the 2007 Lucie Award.[2]

Election as member of the Academy of Fine Arts[edit]

He is named knight of the Légion d'honneur in 2003 and elected member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France on 31 May 2006, on the creation of a new section dedicated to photography. Clergue is the first photographer to enter the Academy to a seat devoted to photography.

He is Chairman of the Academy of Fine Arts for 2013.

Personal life[edit]

Lucien Clergue is married to the art curator Yolande Clergue, founder of The Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles. He is the father of two daughters: Anne Clergue (a curator of contemporary art who has worked at Leo Castelli Gallery) and Olivia Clergue (a handbag fashion designer whose godfather was Pablo Picasso).


  • Corps mémorable, Pierre Seghers editions, Paris, 1957. Poems by Paul Éluard, cover by Pablo Picasso, introductory poem by Jean Cocteau.
    • Re-edited in 1960 without Cocteau’s poem, then in 1963 in a German version where censors impose changes to one of the dozen photos; then in 1965 with all the text in black.
    • In 1969, a remake edition with added photos and new marquetry is published.
    • In 1996, on the occasion of the poet’s centenary, another edition is published with new photos and a marquette designed by Massin. ISBN 978-2-221-08423-6
    • In 2003 this last edition is re-published. An exposition organized by the Carré d'Art of Nîmes at the end of 2006 celebrates 50 years of this legendary work.
  • Turck, Eva-Monika, ed. (November 2003). Poésie Photographique (Hardcover). (Photographic Poetry). Clergue, Lucien (Photographer); Heiting, Manfred (Foreword); Kranzfelder, Ivo (Contributor) (English, French and German ed.). Prestel Publishing. Retrieved 2010-11-13.  ISBN 3-7913-2850-6
  • Langage des Sables, Agep, Marseilles, 1980, ISBN 2-902634-08-0
  • Portraits, Actes Sud, Arles, 2005, ISBN 2-7427-5423-7
  • Toros Muertos (1966) published in the United States by Brussel & Brussel. This was a 48 page collection of images from the Spanish bullfights.
  • Brasilia. Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern, Germany 2013, English language text: ISBN 978-3-7757-3313-7


External links[edit]