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Past Exhibition

Lucien Clergue

Jean Cocteau

Testament of Orpheus, 1959


Curated by James Cavello

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."

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 the photographer

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, André Kertész, Marcel Breuer, Roman Polanski, Umberto Eco, Robert Rauschenberg, 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 some- times 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 landmarks such as Carnegie Hall. Clergue also directed a film, Delta de sel with music by Manitas de Plata which was nominated for an academy award and 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 Museum of Modern Art New York.

Photographs © The Estate of Lucien Clergue

Solo Exhibitions

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

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

  • 2014 - Throckmorton Gallery, NYC

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

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

  • 2013 - Centre Culturel Français, Madrid, Spain

  • 2013 - Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton, France

  • 2011 - Maison de la photographie, Moscow, Russia

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

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

  • 2010 - Artmia Foudation, Beijing, China

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

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

  • 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 - Abbaye de Montmajour, Arles, France

  • 1997 - UCR California Museum of Photography, CA

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

  • 1997 - Musée Paul Eluard, Paris, France

  • 1993 - FNAC, Paris, France

  • 1993 - Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI

  • 1988 - International Photo Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

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

  • 1987 - Amos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland

  • 1986 - Photo Fiesta, Higeshikawa, Japan

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

  • 1985 - George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

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

  • 1984 - French Institute, Tel Aviv, Israel

  • 1980 - Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

  • 1978 - Shadai Gallery, Tokyo, Japan

  • 1978 - Photographic Center, Melbourne, Australia

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

  • 1974 - Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

  • 1974 - Leopold-Hoesch Museum, Düren, Germany

  • 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

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

  • International Center of Photography, NYC

  • Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

  • Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.

  • San Francisco MoMA

  • Fogg Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

  • Fondation National d’Art Contemporain, Paris, France

  • Kunstmuseum, Basel, Switzerland

  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

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

  • Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France

  • Cabinet des Estampes à Genève, Geneva, Switzerland

  • Dortmund Art Museum, Dortmund, Germany

  • École Nationale de la Photographie, Arles, France

  • Galeria de la Foto, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

  • Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

  • La Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France

  • Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, France

  • Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, Japan

  • Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden

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

  • Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland

  • Musée Picasso, Paris, France

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

  • National Gallery of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON

  • Oxford College Collection, Oxford, England

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

  • Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, Arles, France

  • Preus Fotomuseum, Horten, Norway

  • Victoria Gallery, Melbourne, Australia

  • The University of Maryland, Catonsville Baltimore County

  • The Milwaukee Museum of Art Milwaukee

  • Buhl Foundation, New York

  • Musee Reattu, Arles, France

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

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

  • University of Michigan Museum of Art, University of Michigan

  • Musée Jean Cocteau, Menton, France

  • Newcomb Art Museum, Tulane University, New Orleans LA

  • Hofstra University Museum, Hempstead, NY

  • Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA

  • Syracuse University Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY

  • Oklahoma City Museum of Art, OK

  • Provincetown Art Association and Museum, Provincetown, MA

  • Picasso Museum, Barcelona

  • Musee des Beaux-Arts, Nîmes, France

  • Musee des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium

  • 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