Born in 1934 in Arles, Lucien Clergue had to abort his studies at the age of sixteen years old to enter the factory. He studied the violin, then started practicing photography.
In 1961, an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, at the invitation of Edward Steichen, showed his talent. In 1984 the Museum of Modern Art in Paris devotes a retrospective exhibition covering 30 years of activity.
His work delves into the secrets of life and death through his scenes of acrobats, carrion, bullfighting, the female nude, the Camargue landscape, portraits of personalities (Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Saint-John Perse,...). These subjects impose themselves on him as leitmotivs of a universe that is both special and universal. As evidenced by his research on Gypsies, his work simultaneously brings a universality linked to a timeless exploration of nature, the female body, places and gestures in which the lives of men are immemorial.
His works appear in several museums and institutions, both in France and abroad. Lucien Clergue founded in Arles, in 1969, with Michel Tournier and Jean-Maurice Rouquette, the "Rencontres internationales de la photographie", which in 1983 will create the National School of Photography in the same city, where he started teaching part-time. He also initiated the collection of photographs of the Reattu Museum of Arles since 1962, now with 4500 works.
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