Lucien Clergue

1934–2014

Lucien Clergue (French, 1934–2014) was born in Arles, France. His mother gifted him a camera when he is 13 and he turned to teaching himself the basics of photography. At the beginning of the 1950s he met Pablo Picasso who tentatively encouraged him to pursue photography further. With the goal of showing Picasso more of his pictures, Clergue photographed a series called Saltimbanques, portraying acrobats, harlequins and traveling entertainers. Having chosen Picasso as his mentor, Clergue finally formed a close friendship with the artist, which lasted until Picasso’s death in 1973. In 1968, Clergue co-founded the Rencontres d’Arles, a photography festival held annually in the summer in Arles. In 1974 he traveled to Scandinavia and Russia, Poland, and Prague, where he met photographers Josef Sudek and Jan Saudek. More travels would follow, always tied to lectures, teaching jobs and photographic experiments. Clergue developed three strong themes in his imagery: Picasso and his circle, the female nude, and bullfighting. He was the first photographer to be elected member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris, and he published numerous books.