Lucien Clergue ルシアン・クレルグ
Supported by Cheerio Corporation Co., LTD.
Curated by François Hébel
Scenography by Erika Yamao
Lucien Clergue (1934–2014), grew up in Arles, in southern France. Both for his contribution to photography and music, his city of Arles, where Vincent Van Gogh produced his best paintings, is at the heart of his work. At the age of ten he experienced the destruction and poverty of war, which had a deep effect on him. He was gifted a box camera in 1948 by his mother who was running a grocery store. She thought he would be an artist and he studied violin, and developed an interest in photography. He received the blessing of the painter Pablo Picasso in 1953 for his pictures of kids in war ruins of Arles, dead animals in frozen Camargue wetland landscapes, and bullfights. His series of nudes in the waves made him famous in the 1970’s, a time of sexual freedom in the West.
In 1969, he launched the photographic festival: les Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie of Arles, which has since become the international annual meeting for photography lovers, professionals and amateurs. During the same time period, he discovered the soon worldwide famous gypsy guitar player Manitas de Plata, uncle of the future Gipsy kings, and became his impresario. This was also the start of a long series of pictures in the intimacy of the important Gypsy community of the Camargue. In 2006 Lucien Clergue was the first photographer to become a member of l’Institut de France, at Académie des Beaux Arts. In 2008 he was decorated with the title of Commandeur of the Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2015 he had a major retrospective at the Grand Palais in Paris.
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