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Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’ Ocula Conversation Bani Abidi: ‘What you see in my films is what I know’

A group of voices accompanies me in the exhibition. They are singing words I cannot comprehend, yet the warm tunes are familiar: folk songs, love songs, songs of longing. There are letters, too. They speak of the quotidian details of a soldier's life: the hardness of the war, sending money to the family, and longing for familiar landscapes, food,...

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Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future Ocula Report Aichi to Okayama: Art in Japan Looks to the Future 11 Oct 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There has been a flurry of triennial and biennial art activity in Japan this year. The Aichi Triennale opened in Nagoya this August, sparking a national debate about the shutting down of a display of formerly censored works—the result of public backlash against a burnt image of Emperor Hirohito and a statue commemorating the women forced into...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Lucien Clergue

France

Lucien Clergue was a French photographer most remembered for his images of female nudes and his friendships with Pablo Picasso and Jean Cocteau. As the founder of the Rencontres d'Arles, one of the greatest photography festivals in the world, Clergue is also celebrated for elevating the status of photography in France. Enduring themes in his work include life and death, fertility and decay, and light and shadow.

Clergue's early life and early photographs were heavily affected by World War II, which left his hometown of Arles in ruins. His mother's death in 1952 further haunted him with themes of death and destruction. Clergue began photographing local children, whom he cast as travelling musicians and gypsies and dressed in costumes he made himself after the style of commedia dell'arte. Posed against the ruins of Arles, Clergue's images represented a generation of children who, as joyously dressed as they were, were deprived of stability in post-War France.

Clergue also initiated his famous female nude photographs at this time. Shifting away from his grim early images of bullfights and carrion, he now sought to concentrate on life. Arranged against nature—on desert sands, in the woods or sea—or in the streets of metropolitan cities, Clergue's female nudes appear to be parts of a landscape or pure form rather than the bodies of real women. The 'Zebra Nudes' series—produced between the 1990s and the 2010s—in particular treats the nude as a plane on which Clergue experiments with light and shadow. In the black-and-white photographs of 'zebra nudes', the female body leans against blinds in bright daylight. The shadows of the blinds cast geometric patterns onto the nude. Body and pattern merge together as one, perhaps a zebra as the title suggests.

As a portraitist of Picasso and Cocteau, Clergue captured the two legendary 20th-century figures in rare and intimate moments. He was close friends with both from the early 1950s. Their support helped him successfully launch Corps Mémorable (Memorable Bodies), his first book (published in 1957) and a collection of photographs of female nudes. Picasso designed the book cover and a poster for the exhibition, and Cocteau wrote an introductory poem.

Aside from photography, Clergue was a prolific author, educator and filmmaker. He published 75 books or more and taught at schools in Europe and Japan. In addition to founding the Rencontres d'Arles in 1970, he opened the National School of Photography in Arles in 1982. Clergue directed more than 20 short films and documentaries. Among these, Delta of Salt (1967) was nominated for an Academy Award and shown at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival.

Clergue exhibited at many major international institutions including Photo Gallery International, Tokyo (1988); Centre Pompidou, Paris (1980); Ecole des Beaux Arts et d'Architecture, Marseille (1972); Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois (1970); Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf (1970); the Louvre Museum, Paris (1962); and The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1961). For his advancements in photography, the French government awarded him the National Order of Merit (1980) and the National Order of the Legion of Honour (2003). In 2006, Clergue was the first photographer to become an elected member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts de France, where he served as president in 2013. He died in Nîmes, France, in 2014.

Biography by Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017
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Featured Artworks

Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper
31.2 x 34.6 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Picasso à « La Californie » (Cannes 1955) by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClerguePicasso à « La Californie » (Cannes 1955), 1955 Photography
40 x 30 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper, vintage
30.1 x 24 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper, vintage
23.9 x 30.1 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper, vintage
23.9 x 30.1 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper, vintage
33.3 x 24 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Nu de la mer by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien ClergueNu de la mer, 1956 Gelatin silver print on baryta paper, vintage
24 x 30.1 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
o.T. (23) by Lucien Clergue contemporary artwork
Lucien Clergueo.T. (23), 1955 Silver gelatin print on paper
24 x 30 cm
Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Modern & tribal masters at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Closed
10–16 June 2019 Group Exhibition Modern & tribal masters Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, COME IN! INTERIEURS at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Closed
7 February–23 March 2019 Group Exhibition COME IN! INTERIEURS Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Corpus at Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf
Closed
30 June–1 September 2018 Group Exhibition Corpus Beck & Eggeling International Fine Art, Düsseldorf

Represented By

In Related Press

Lucien Clergue - obituary Related Press Lucien Clergue - obituary Telegraph : 18 November 2014

Lucien Clergue, who has died aged 80, was a French photographer whose friendship with Pablo Picasso helped forge a passion for bulls in the ring and women on the beach.A short, sharply dressed man with a clipped beard, Clergue was a true Mediterranean. He lived in the Arles area for most of his life, photographing its bullfights, circuses and...

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