New York Photo Review
Volume 2 Issue 45 December 20 to January 3, 2012

Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

America: Abstract and Nudes
Lucien Clergue
Clergue in America
Ed Barnas
 by Lucien Clergue. Source: fiaf.org
Lucien Clergue

There seems to be a resurgence of interest in the work of French photographer Lucian Clergue, the co-founder of Rencontres d'Arles, whose career spanned six decades. Throckmorton exhibited his nudes alongside photos of his friend Picasso in 2010 and his documentation of Jean Cocteau’s Testament of Orpheus is currently on view at Westwood Gallery.

The current show at the French Alliance concentrates on his work in America. He first visited the US in 1961 to attend a show of his work at MOMA. Six square, fairly formal black and white prints from the start of that trip are included in the exhibit. On that visit he also acquired his first 35mm SLR and his view expanded outside the square format of his Rolleiflex.

The images on display cover a variety of subjects. A number of nudes, mostly black and white, in both natural and man-made environments, reflect a classic, formal treatment of the body as an anonymous landscape. (An exception is the carbon print of a nude in Minneapolis (1986) which calls to mind early Weston and Steichen with its dramatic use of shadow.) Complementing these nudes is a group of landscapes at Point Lobos with sensual, anthropomorphic overtones (e.g., Homo Ludens). Other desert landscapes focus on details, crisp designs in light and shadow. Given Clergue’s many friends among the arts, there are also a number of informal portraits as well (although a few of these images were taken outside the US, not quite fitting the “in America” title). While most of the work shown is figurative, the exhibit does include some abstracts such as an early study of surface patterns in a fountain (1961) and a colorful reflective self-portrait at Bloomingdales (1988).

André Kertesz and model by Lucien Clergue. Source: fiaf.org
Lucien Clergue, "André Kertesz and model" 1980

One can quibble with the choices made in a survey show such as this. While doing background research for this review, I found the “Clergue in America” portfolio on his agent’s website (http://www.anneclergue.fr/artistes/Lucien-Clergue/portfolio) and noted several images which I thought worthy of inclusion. In particular, an abstract pattern of asphalt drippings on a road in Santa Fe (1985) and several multi-body nude studies that seem to presage Spencer Tunnick. But then, the gallery only has only so much space on its walls.

Lucien Clergue
Clergue in America


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Thursday, November 10 to
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery