For over fifty years, Lucien Clergue has been an independent photographer, known for his thirty year association with Picasso, as well as other creators, including Edward Steichen, Jean Cocteau, Max Ernst, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Salvador Dali, Jean Renoir, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Andre Kertesz, Marcel Breuer, Roman Polanski, Umberto Eco, David Hockney, Robert Rauschenberg, Christian Lacroix and many other artistic individuals. Lucien Clergue's talent also extended to music -- as a child violinist he was inspired by the rhythm, melodic quality and sometimes haunting effect of music. In the early 1950's in Arles, France where Clergue was born, he photographed gypsy families and met Jose Reyes of The Gipsy Kings and his cousin, flamenco guitarist, Manitas de Plata. For many years Clergue teamed the singer and guitarist and traveled the duo around the world with performances at Carnegie Hall. Clergue also directed a film, Delta de sel with music by Manitas de Plata which was nominated for an academy award. He went on to create and direct numerous art-related films (Picasso, War, Love and Peace, 1968, produced by Universal Pictures).
The subjects of Clergue's photographs have spanned the decades capturing extraordinary images of Saltimbanques, undulating nudes, intimate portraits of Picasso, Cocteau, Hockney, reflective images, the bullfight, death-related concepts and experimental fine art photographs. Clergue's photographs are in the collection of over 60 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. The Fogg Museum at Harvard University has over 450 photographs by Clergue in their collection, as well The Boston Museum which holds 260 photographs in their collection.
From his challenging and impoverished childhood in Arles, France, Clergue became a self-made artist, admired by many with numerous awards and achievements. He was named knight of the Legion d'honneur in 2003 and in 2005 was honored with a Lucie award for Lifetime Achievement in Fine Art Photography. In 2007 he was bestowed membership in Academie des Beaux-Arts and is the only photographer to have ever been a member. Further, in 2013, he was elected president of the French Académie des Beaux-Arts. Lucien Clergue also established the annual photography festival in Arles in 1969, along with his friend Michel Tournier, to celebrate artistic innovation in photography.
JEAN COCTEAU: Testament of Orpheus