Lucien Clergue in America, 1961-2010
©Lucien Clergue "Nu zébré" New York 1997 Courtesy Galerie Patrice Trigano
©Lucien Clergue "Nus à New York" 1979
©Lucien Clergue "Maja" Tirage au platine
©Lucien Clergue "Deux nus chez Jeff"
©Lucien Clergue "Le sexe du monde" White Sands
©Lucien Clergue "Énigme sur la route d'El Paso"
©Lucien Clergue "Automne" New York 1961
©Lucien Clergue "White Sands"
©Lucien Clergue "New York Memories Composite VI"
©Lucien Clergue "New York Memories Composite VIII"
For the past three years, the Association Lucien Clergue en Pays d’Arles has honored the photographer with an exhibition at Arles. After “The Gypsies and their Prince: José Reyes” in 2009, Clergue in the Arena, 50 years of bullfighting in 2010, the Association is this year offering Clergue in America 1961 – 2010. Through numerous exhibitions, retrospectives and books (more than 75 to this day not including catalogues), one would think that the entirety of this photographer’s work was well known.
His daughter, Anne, exhibition curator, after exploring her father’s archives, proves the opposite. There are his well known nudes and zebras, (like the poster), taken in New York, and a few stories about the Point Lobos boulders, but not enough to build an exhibition including 150 prints and the entirety of the Palais de l’Archevêché through the beginning of May, 2011, which is the case.
The story of this American chapter began in 1961. He was 27 when Edward Steichen, Photography Director at the MOMA, built his first retrospective.
Although Clergue traveled frequently to the United States, he always affirmed that it was to conduct workshops or inaugurate exhibitions. Never had he mentioned that he was secretly working on his personal production.
His vision of America is both an exploration of the country’s vast landscapes, including the infamous Death Valley deserts. By following in Edward Weston’s footsteps and by visiting Ansel Adams, he confirms the vision that led him to hunt out the similarities that bind boulders and human beings. A rereading of Weston’s Point Lobos, the beginnings of his future works Sand Language and Traces of Gods.
The streets of New York, the highways of Santa Fé but also his portraits of personalities throughout the art world are also part of his work in America. That is how we discover pictures of Christo, Yul Brynner, Lionel Hampton or Jackie Kennedy… We know that Lucien Clergue was passionate about architecture, and more than in France, he found what he was looking for in the United States, whether it be through Le Corbusier’s Harvard University building or the house by Marcel Breuer, among others.
But as was previously mentioned, Lucien Clergue found in the United States the inspiration to give a new dimension to his vast series about nudes and initiate new research on super impositions. He found there the light quality that allowed him to produce the famous zebra nudes in a building on 51st Street in New York, or his obsession about death in his black or white nudes in Death Valley or White Sands. And it is by frequenting the great American museums like the Metropolitan that was born the idea of super impositions. The caption indicates that it was also due to a mistake!
A book, Clergue in America, complements the exhibition. Co edited by the Association and Sedicom World Graphic Design, the bilingual version will be available on March 31 on paper and with an ipad application.
Correspondant de l’Institut de France
Clergue in America 1961-2010
Until May 1
Palais de l’Archevêché
Place de la République