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Lucien Clergue

Lucien Clergue (1934-2014) was a legendary fine art photographer, author, educator and filmmaker. His work has been associated with significant artists of the 20th century, including Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Roland Barthes, Max Ernst, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Salvador Dali, Jean Renoir, André Kertész, Marcel Breuer, Roman Polanski and the Gipsy Kings. Lucien Clergue received the French Legion of Honor award in 2003 (only received by two other photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson and André Kertész). In addition, he is the first photographer bestowed with membership in the Académie des Beaux Arts of the Institute of France. In 2013, he was elected president of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. Clergue's photographs have been exhibited in over 100 solo exhibitions worldwide. Harvard University's Fogg Museum has an extensive collection of Clergue's photographs, as well as Museum of Fine Arts Boston. Clergue has captured extraordinary images of Saltimbanques, nudes, the bullfight, intimate portraits of artists, intellectuals, musicians and creative individuals. His photographic artistry extended to experimental and visionary images of deserts, cities and integrating master paintings with the human form. In addition to photography, Clergue has created and directed numerous art related films, including Picasso, War, Love and Peace and co-founded, along with Michel Tournier, the annual Les Rencontres d'Arles Photographie, the internationally recognized photography festival in Arles, France.

In 1959, Clergue captured historic and artistic photographs on the set of Jean Cocteau's last film "Testament of Orpheus" (Le testament d'Orphée) . The images evoke the creative personality of one of France's foremost 20th century intellectuals, Jean Cocteau, writer, artist and filmmaker. Clergue documented the atmosphere on the set of the landmark, seminal film. Among Cocteau's collaborators represented are Pablo Picasso, Yul Brynner and Jean Marais. Photographer Lucien Clergue, a close friend of Cocteau, was only 25 at the time; he documented the making of the film. In the words of Cocteau, "You are free to do as you please, I look forward to being surprised by your photos. They will reveal something different from my film."

Jean Cocteau's of "Testament of Orpheus," 1959

"Testament of Orpheus" (Le testament d'Orphée), directed and starring Jean Cocteau, represents the third part of his Orphic Trilogy and is Cocteau's last film, following "The Blood of a Poet" (1930) and "Orphée" (1950). The black-and-white film includes a few seconds of color, and portrays the quest for divine wisdom of an 18th century poet, played by Mr. Cocteau himself. In a mysterious wasteland, The Poet meets several symbolic characters that bring about his death and resurrection. Testament of Orpheus brings full circle the exploration of the complex relationship between the artist and his creations. With an eclectic cast, including Jean Marais, Charles Aznavour, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Serge Lifar, Françoise Sagan as well as cameo appearances by Yul Brynner and Pablo Picasso, the film represents a retrospective of Cocteau's life and work as examined by the artist himself, and is, in Cocteau's own words, "simply a machine for creating meanings".

About Jean Cocteau

Jean Maurice Eugène Clément Cocteau (5 July 1889 - 11 October 1963) was a French writer, visual artist and filmmaker. His circle of associates, friends and lovers included Kenneth Anger, Pablo Picasso, Jean Marais, Henri Bernstein, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Chanel, Erik Satie, Maria Félix, Edith Piaf. Born in a small village near Paris in a socially prominent Parisian family, Cocteau left home at age fifteen, and published his first volume of poems at nineteen. In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with the writers Marcel Proust, André Gide, and Maurice Barrès. In 1912, he started his collaboration with Ballets Russes. During World War I, Cocteau served in the Red Cross as an ambulance driver, and met the poet Guillaume Apollinaire, artists Pablo Picasso and Amedeo Modigliani, as well as numerous other writers and artists with whom he later collaborated. Cocteau worked with Pablo Picasso on several projects and was friends with most of the European art community. His films, most of which he both wrote and directed, were particularly important in introducing the avant-garde into French cinema and influenced the French New Wave genre. In 1955, Cocteau was made a member of the Académie Française and The Royal Academy of Belgium. During his life, Cocteau was commander of the Legion of Honor and Honorary President of the Cannes Film Festival. He died in 1963 at his chateau in Milly-la-Forêt.

Photographs © The Estate of Lucien Clergue

Solo Exhibitions

  • 2015 - Lucien Clergue: Les Premiers Albums, Grand Palais, Paris

  • 2015 - Tribute to Lucien Clergue, Galerie Jacques de la Béraudière, Geneva, Switzerland

  • 2014 - Lucien Clergue: La Lumière Transcrite, Odon Wagner Contemporary, Toronto, Canada

  • 2014 - Throckmorton Gallery, NYC

  • 2013 - Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton, France

  • 2013 - Centre Culturel Français, Madrid, Spain

  • 2013 - Musée Yves Brayer, Les-Baux-de-Provence, France

  • 2011 - Jean Cocteau’s “The Testament of Orpheus," 1959, Westwood Gallery, NYC

  • 2011 - Clergue in America , French Institute Alliance Française, NYC

  • 2011 - Maison de la photographie, Moscow, Russia

  • 2010 - Clergue Dans L’Arène, 50 Ans de Photographie, Palais de L’Archevêché, Paris

  • 2010 - Palais de l'Archevêché, Arles, France

  • 2010 - Artmia Foudation, Beijing, China

  • 2007 - Lucien Clergue, “The Poet with the Camera”, KunstHausWien, Wien, Austria

  • 2006 - Louis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA

  • 2004 - Recontres Internationales de la Photographie, Abbaye de Montmajour, Arles, France

  • 1999 - Museum für Kunst und Kultur, Dortmund, Germany

  • 1997 - Musée Paul Eluard, Paris, France

  • 1997 - Centro de la Imagen, Mexico City, Mexico

  • 1997 - UCR California Museum of Photography, CA

  • 1997 - Abbaye de Montmajour, Arles, France

  • 1993 - Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

  • 1993 - FNAC, Paris, France

  • 1988 - International Photo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

  • 1987 - Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland

  • 1987 - Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris , Paris, France

  • 1986 - Lucien Clergue, International Center of Photography, NYC

  • 1986 - Photo Fiesta, Higeshikawa, Japan

  • 1985 - George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

  • 1984 - French Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel

  • 1984 - Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, France

  • 1980 - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

  • 1978 - Photographic Center, Melbourne, Australia

  • 1978 - Shadai Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

  • 1974 - Leopold-Hoesch Museum, Düren, Germany

  • 1974 - Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

  • 1974 - Musée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

  • 1969 - Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

  • 1963 - Kunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich, Switzerland

  • 1962 - Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

  • 1958 - Kunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich, Switzerland



Group Exhibitions

  • 2009 - Lucien Clergue, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Deux Photographes Académiciens, Musée Marmottan, Paris

  • 1999 - The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) Exhibition, NYC

  • 1998 - Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

  • 1990 - Galerie Lieberman and Saul, NYC

  • 1979 - New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA

  • 1978 - Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, Mexico

  • 1961 - Diogenes with a Camera V, Museum of Modern Art, NYC

  • 1958 - Museum of Modern Art, NYC

  • Museum of Modern Art, NYC

  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

  • San Francisco MoMA

  • Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

  • Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

  • International Center of Photography, NYC

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

  • Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

  • Fondation National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France

  • Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA

  • Musee des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

  • Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nîmes, France

  • Picasso Museum, Barcelona

  • Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA

  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art, OK

  • Syracuse University Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY

  • Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA

  • Hofstra University Museum, Hempstead, NY

  • Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans LA

  • Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton, France

  • University of Michigan Museum of Art, University of Michigan

  • Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas

  • Kemper Art Museum, University of Washington in St. Louis

  • Musee Reattu, Arles, France

  • Buhl Foundation, New York

  • The Milwaukee Museum of Art Milwaukee

  • The University of Maryland, Catonsville Baltimore County

  • Victoria Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

  • Preus Fotomuseum, Horten, Norway

  • Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, France

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

  • Oxford College Collection, Oxford, England

  • National Gallery of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

  • Museum of Modern Art of Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico

  • Musée Picasso, Paris, France

  • Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France

  • Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

  • Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan

  • Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France

  • La Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France

  • Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

  • George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

  • Galeria de la Foto, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • École Nationale de la Photographie, Arles, France

  • Dortmund Art Museum, Dortmund, Germany

  • Cabinet des Estampes à Genève, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France

  • Lucien Clergue: Eros and Thanatos, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue: Fifty Years of Photography, Karen Sinsheimer

  • Practical Nude Photography, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Footprints of the Gods: The Point Lobos Saga, Text by Jim Hughes, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Picasso Mon Ami, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue Poesie Photographique , Eva-Monika Turck

  • Double fantaisie: Entretien autour d’un doute, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue: Grands Nus, Jacques Outin

  • La Nuit de la Terre: Les Tombes de Montmajour, Arles 1955, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Language des Sables, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Mon paysage: le paysage préféré des Français, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Nimeno II: Torero de France, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Passion de Femmes: Une Leçon de Photographie, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Passion Passions, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Saint-John Perse: Poete Devant La Mer, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Tauromachies, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Vivre La Provence et La Camargue, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Naissances d’Aphrodite: Birth of Aphrodite, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue: Homage, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue: Nee de la Vague, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Toros Muertos, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Lucien Clergue: Les Saltimbanques, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Nude Workshop, Photographs by Lucien Clergue

  • Jean Cocteau and the Testament of Orpheus, 1959, Photographs by Lucien Clergue