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Lucien Clergue (French, 1934-2014)

Photography

Birth Place: Arles, France

Biography:

Who was photographer Lucien Clergue?

Lucien Clergue was a French photographer and artist who, in addition to his contributions to photographic art, also founded the famed Rencontres d’Arles photography festival. Clergue counted Picasso amongst his friends and was famed for his photographic portraits, nudes, and pictures of carrion. Beyond Picasso, Clergue had several celebrity fans including Jean Cocteau, Edward Steichen, and even the theorist Roland Barthes. It was Barthes who legitimized Clergue’s work, saying that he thought the photographer’s work was on par with any of the great painters.

The popularity of Clergue soon blossomed in the critical sphere as well. His prints were sought by collectors all around the world and he had several best-selling books, including illustrating a book for Yves Navarre. Clergue’s photography is in some of the most prestigious museums in the world including the last exhibition ever organized by Edward Steichen for The Museum of Modern Art. Other museums featuring Clergue’s work are The Fogg Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and countless others. He has been honored with numerous awards including the Lucie Award and became a Knight of Honor for the Academy of Fine Arts for the Institute of France. He would hold the post of Chairman of the Academy of Fine Arts from 2013 until his death in 2014.

What kind of art did Lucien Clergue make?

Lucien Clergue was a photographer who is best known for his black and white modernist photographs. These photos were often nudes, portraits of circus performers, or even roadside carrion. He was perhaps best known for his 1969 work, founding the International Festival of Photography in Arles, France. While it may seem funny now, this was a huge step in legitimizing photography as an art form and led to an explosion in the popularity of high-end photography. The event now draws in excess of 100,000 people every year. Clergue’s work reached a wider audience thanks also to his print work, he published nearly 75 photography books during his lifetime.

How did photographer Lucien Clergue get started?

Lucien Clergue was born in 1934 in the small town of Arles, France. He was an artistic child, learning to play the violin at age seven. Clergue was from a modest background (both his parents were shopkeepers) which precluded him from attending a conservatory to develop these skills. IT would be in 1949, at the age of 15, when he picked up a camera for the first time to learn the basic skills of photography. He would receive a big break at the age of 19 when, attending the bullfights in Madrid, he met the famed artist, Pablo Picasso. Picasso saw promise in the young photographer’s work, encouraging Clergue to continue his work. His friendship with Picasso would span several continents over the course of 30 years.

How much are Lucien Clergue photos worth?

Lucien Clergue is a highly regarded photographer, his pieces can sell between $1,000 and $5,000 -- depending on the work. The highest price ever paid for a Lucien Clergue photograph at a Heritage Auction sale was $4,687.50 for the print, Nudes (1985) on March 23rd, 2013. It was sold by Heritage Auctions. Lucien Clergue has several photos with high estimates in the $4,000 range. This price seems, then, to fit with the overall projection of a photograph by Clergue.

Where to buy Lucien Clergue photos for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Lucien Clergue photos?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.


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