Lucien Clergue

France 1934 - 2014


Lucien Clergue
Lucien Clergue
February 4, 2015
Music, Gestalt, .

Lucien Clergue was a filmmaker, author, and photographer known for his masterful compositions and innovative use of light and shadow. His work has been associated with some of France’s most significant artists, intellectuals, and musicians including Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Roland Barthes, and the Gypsy Kings.

Lucien Clergue was born on 14 August 1934 in the coastal town of Arles, Provence, and has lived there ever since. The only son of shop owners, Clergue’s early life was interrupted by the experience of poverty and destruction brought on by the war years. In 1952, at the age of 18, he was faced with the untimely death of his mother. Clergue channeled his energies into shooting photographs with a box camera his mother had gifted him a few years before her passing.

Lucien Clergue first discovered the power of the camera in his difficult adolescence. He witnessed the destruction of his family’s house by WWII bombsHe has spent much of his career taking photos that express loss, death and decay. He is known for his female nude torsos from the mid ’50s – ’70s and bullfight images from the Arles arena, where he met Pablo Picasso, a strong supporter of his early work. His later work turned to organic abstractions of sand, lace, etc. His work has been influenced by mythology, adventure and what he calls “the mentality of the Mediterranean man.

In the 1960’s, he became increasingly involved in filmmaking, producing dozens of films over the course of his career, and was nominated for an Academy Award for his documentary Delta del Sel in 1967. In addition, he traveled to the United States for the first time in 1961, where he was deeply influenced by the American landscape and the photographs of artists such as Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. In addition, his time spent in the US inspired Clergue to establish the Arles Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie, a festival held in Arles incorporating theater, dance, music, and art, and which played an important role in establishing France’s prominence in the global photography market.

In 2003 he was given the famous Legion D’Honneur, and then in 2006 he was elected as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de l’Institut de France, the first photographer to be given the honor. His photographs are held in museums around the world, and he has published over 75 books.

Lucien Clergue passed away in 2014 at the age of 80 in Nîmes.

Year Exhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014UntitledOdon Wagner Gallery, Toronto, ONSolo
2014UntitledThrockmorton Gallery, New York, NYSolo
2014UntitledArt Toronto, Odon Wagner Contemporary, Toronto, ONGroup
2013UntitledMusée Yves Brayer, Les-Baux-de-Provence, FranceSolo
2013UntitledCentre Culturel Français, Madrid, SpainSolo
2013UntitledMusée Jean Cocteau, Menton, FranceSolo
2012UntitledChris Beetles Gallery, London, EnglandSolo
2011UntitledMaison de la photographie, Moscow, RussiaSolo
2011UntitledFrench Institute, New York, NYSolo
2010UntitledArtmia Foudation, Beijing, ChinaSolo
2010UntitledPalais de l'Archevêché, Arles, FranceSolo
2006UntitledLouis Stern Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CASolo
2004UntitledRecontres Internationales de la Photographie, Abbaye de Montmajour, Arles, FranceSolo
2003Echec et succès en créativité, organized by Creando Interlaken, SwitzerlandGroup
2002UntitledMusée des Beaux-Arts, Nîmes, FranceSolo
1999UntitledMuseum für Kunst und Kultur, Dortmund, GermanySolo
1999UntitledThe Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) Exhibition, New York, NYGroup
1998Paris Photo Musée du Louvre, Paris, FranceGroup
1997UntitledAbbaye de Montmajour, Arles, FranceSolo
1997UntitledUCR California Museum of Photography, CASolo
1997UntitledCentro de la Imagen, Mexico City, MexicoSolo
1997UntitledMusée Paul Eluard, Paris, FranceSolo
1993UntitledFNAC, Paris, FranceSolo
1993UntitledMilwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee, WISolo
1990UntitledGalerie Lieberman and Saul, New York, NYGroup
1988UntitledInternational Photo Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1987UntitledMusée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, FranceSolo
1987UntitledAmos Anderson Art Museum, Helsinki, FinlandSolo
1986UntitledICP, New York, NYSolo
1986UntitledPhoto Fiesta, Higeshikawa, JapanSolo
1985UntitledGeorge Eastman House, Rochester, NYSolo
1984UntitledMusée d’Art Moderne, Paris, FranceSolo
1984UntitledFrench Institute, Tel Aviv, IsraelSolo
1980UntitledCentre Georges Pompidou, Paris, FranceSolo
1979UntitledNew Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LAGroup
1978UntitledShadai Gallery, Tokyo, JapanSolo
1978UntitledPhotographic Center, Melbourne, AustraliaSolo
1978UntitledMuseo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, MexicoGroup
1974UntitledMusée des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, BelgiumSolo
1974UntitledIsrael Museum, Jerusalem, IsraelSolo
1974UntitledLeopold-Hoesch Museum, Düren, GermanySolo
1969UntitledModerna Museet, Stockholm, SwedenSolo
1963UntitledKunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1962UntitledPavillion de Marsan, Musée du Louvre, Paris, FranceSolo
1961UntitledMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup
1958UntitledKunstgewerbemuseum, Zurich, SwitzerlandSolo
1958UntitledMuseum of Modern Art, New York, NYGroup