Surreal Photography Lucien Clergue

"Lucien Clergue was born in 1934 in Arles, Southern France. The only son of shop owners, Clergue’s early life was interupted 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.
Clergue taught himself photography in his free time while working in Southern France. He quickly built a reputation for himself, and over the years formed lasting and influential relationships with many renowned artists, collectors, and benefactors, including Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, St. John Perse, Roland Barthes, Michel Tournier, James Jones, Ansel Adams, Andre Kertesz, Irwing Shaw, Yasuhiro Ishimoto, Eikoh Hosoe, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Doisneau.

 The myriad of subject matter featured in Clergue’s work includes a series depicting the war ruins of Arles, Spanish bullfighters, the French countryside, and of course, the female nude. The brilliance and integrity of his vision has led many private collectors and institutions to seek out and exhibit his work. In 1961, Edward Steichen invited him to undertake a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art. The next year he exhibited again, this time at the pavillon de Marsan, Palais du Louvre, Paris.

Clergue has since been decorated with the honor of the National Order of Merit by President Giscard d'Estaing in 1979, and in 2003 received the highest honor bestowed by the the French Ministry of Culture as a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. In 2006 he became the first photographer to be a member of the Academy of Fine Arts of the Institute of France. In 1969 he founded and organized The Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie of Arles, which celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2004 with an exhibition homage for Clergue’s 70th birthday."(

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