Picassian characters: Lucien Clergue

Lucien Clergue was born in Arles, on August 14th 1934 within a family of small traders. He become a well-known French photographer and was the first artist of this discipline to become a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France.


«1973 Dokfilm Picasso by Lucien Clergue Condor Films» of Condor Films. Available under license CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://goo.gl/P3gvZt

In 1953 he coincided for the first time with Picasso during a bullfight in Arles. Clergue showed the photographs he had taken of the event to Picasso, who asked him to show him some more. During the following year Clergue would send photos to Picasso on a regular basis. However, it wouldn’t be until 1955, when both artists coincided once again, this time in Cannes, that a closer friendship was established between the two of them, a friendship which lasted until the death of Picasso, despite the more than fifty years of age difference between them.

Picasso supported him throughout his personal life, but above all during his professional life: he did the poster for his first exhibition, the cover of his first book and above all he let Clergue take photographs of him. They habitually coincided during the summer period of Picasso when he would move to the south of France, but also in Paris when they met up on various occasions, one of them being when they worked with Jean Cocteau on the film Le Testament d’Orphée.

His creative universe went beyond photography and also touched cinema with short films and feature films, among them being Picasso, guerre, amour et paix produced in 1971 by Universal Pictures.


«Lucien Clergue, Kunsthaus Vienna, 2007» by Kay von Aspern. Available under license CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://goo.gl/AE5InE

To commemorate the friendship that united the two artists in 1986, the photographer dedicated an exhibition to Picasso under the name of “Picasso, mon ami” from which he ended up doing an autobiography in 1993 in which he narrated the history of their relation.

Ten years later, for the 40th anniversary of the death of Picasso, Clergue exhibited, once more under the same title, a whole series of photographs based around the most intimate life of Picasso during the nineteen-twenties. In the catalogue of the exhibition, which was held in the Galerie du 10 of the French Institute of Madrid, he remembered the artist with these words:

“I needed, and I still need, his vision of my work.  I keep saying to myself “What would Pablo do?” This question, since then without an answer, haunts me relentlessly. When he died I suddenly felt abandoned: nobody would be able to judge my evolution anymore”

Picasso_Lucien Clergue

Picasso and his doves ©Lucien Clergue Source: www.tendenciasdelarte.com

Lucien Clergue died in Nimes on November 15th 2014 at the age of 80 years old, of which he dedicated more than 60 years to photography, his great passion and profession.

Cristina Martín
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If you want to find out more, in the library of the museum you can consult, by previous appointment, this bibliography:

  • Picasso mon ami / Jean-François Dreuilhe; Lucien Clergue (fot.). — Madrid: Institut français d’Espagne, 2013. — Catàleg de l’exposició celebrada a La Galerie du 10 a l’Institut français d’Espagne de Madrid, en el marc del festival PHotoEspaña 2013, del 21/06/2013 al 26/07/2013
  • Les Clergue d’Arles: photographies de Lucien Clergue et collections du Musée Réattu / sous la direction de Pascale Picard. — Paris : Gallimard, cop. 2014. — Catàleg de l’exposició celebrada al Musée Réattu, Arles, del 5/07/2014 al 4/01/2015
  • Clergue in America / Lucien Clergue; sous la direction d’Anne Clergue. — Arles: Association Lucien Clergue en pays d’Arles, 2011
  • Fotografías / Lucien Clergue. — Murcia: La Aurora, 2007. — Catàleg de l’exposició presentada a la galeria La Aurora de Múrcia el gener i febrer del 2007
  • Minotaures & taureaux: Goya, Doré, Picasso / Yolande Clergue (com.). — Arles : Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, 2006. Catàleg de l’exposició celebrada a la Fondation Vincent Van Gogh d’Arles, de l’1 de juliol al 2 d’octubre de 2006
  • Portraits / Lucien Clergue. — Paris: Autres temps, 2005. — Catàleg de l’exposició celebrada a l’Espace Ecureil de Niça, del 8 de gener al 15 de juliol de 2005
  • Toros y toreros: Goya, Picasso, Clergue / Konrad O. Bernheimer, Isabel Siben, Eva Bitzinger, Lucien Clergue. — Múnic : Bernheimer, 2004. — Catàleg de l’exposició celebrada a la galeria Bernheimer Fine Old Masters, del 18 de febrer al 26 de març de 2004
  • Double fantaisie: Entretien autour d’un doute / Lucien Clergue, Salvatore Lombardo. — Paris : Autres temps, 1999
  • Passion, passions / Lucien ClergueArrabal. — Arles : Actes Sud, 1997
  • Fondation Vincent Van Gogh – Arles: Naissance d’une collection, 1985-1988 / Yolande Clergue. — Arles : Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, 1989
  • Picasso mon ami: Palazzo delle Arti in collaborazione con l’Academia di Francia Villa Medici. Autunno 1986 / Lucien Clergue (fot.). — Roma : Carte Segrete, 1986
  • Eros and Thanatos / Lucien Clergue; Michel Tournier (intr.); Marianne Fulton. — New York: New York Graphic Society Books, 1985
  • Poesie der photographie / Lucien Clergue (fot.); Jean Cocteau (pr.). — Colònia: Dumont Schauberg, 1960
  • Corps mémorable / Paul Éluard; couverture par Pablo Picasso; et douze photographies par Lucien Clergue. — Paris: Pierre Seghers, [1960]

Links and references
Lucien Clergue at Wikipedia
Mi amigo Picasso – Tendencias del Mercado del Arte
Picasso, visto por su amigo Lucien Clergue – ABC
Biography at Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France


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