Lucien Clergue, Style Whose Time is Done?

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That postcard photo (1994?)

My first viewing of Lucien Clergue’s work was a nude. Hearing? Yah–it was a nude. And on a postcard from a NYC gallery that was showing his work. I still have the card. It is still remarkable (to me) in that lust was not my first thought. Really.

Rather, my awareness was about seeing someone else’s passion and love through their eyes. It was a soothing and human landscape. No promises. No requirements.

Few photographers capture their subjects in “quiet” as this, and his other photos, do. Quiet photographs, and the desire to take them, are difficult for people to grasp.

This past summer I was enjoying cocktails at the Wolffer Estate in Long Island. There I met a very attractive, very worldly woman, now married to a man who at certain times in his life was very involved in the arts in New York City… I guess she was in her 70s. English by birth, it appeared, and with a very sharp tongue. Not menacing, however. She was very pleasant and fun.

When I mentioned wanting a quiet camera so I can take people’s pictures without them noticing, she was offended. “Oh” she said tartly, “so you want to stalk us?”

Her response both startled and disappointed me. There is something to capturing images of people as they are, without them knowing their photograph is being taken. This is what Lucien Clergue did in his own photographs of women. Nudes. He created a photograph of the shapes and the personalities of beautiful women.

But he also supported other photographers, and was supported by them, through his gallery and friends. The Times (NY) captured his unique role. His work, reported the Times was of–

modernist black-and-white studies of female nudes, harlequins, dead animals and bullfights — and partly on the strength of all-star patrons who vouched for him as an exemplar of the photographer-artist.

His supporters, including Picasso, the poet and playwright Jean Cocteau, the American photographer Edward Steichen and the French literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes, advanced the idea that photography should be considered an art form on a par with painting. Mr. Clergue carried the banner for this concept throughout his career.

Fascinating. AND, I hope it’s not over. That period where artists sip coffee and argue over composition and color and theme. And enjoy each others’ company. And the love, however temporary and furious, with each other. To create as artists. And to include photography in those discussions and work.

Merci Lucien. Merci mieux fois.

Lucien Clergue, Master and Promoter of Art Photography, Dies at 80

Lucien Clergue, one of the most acclaimed photographers in France and a founder of an annual festival in Arles that has become a mainstay of the art photography world, died on Nov. 15 in Nîmes, in the South of France. He was 80. The cause was cancer, his daughter Anne Clergue said.

How Garry Winogrand and Photography
Became Special, Together

He was an influence on many. I am but one sole practitioner and fan.

Garry Winogrand captured people on film. Perhaps not at their best or most attractive. The images are withstanding the test of time. Like Weegee, Doisneau and many so-called street photographers the images of people are generally shot in black & white. That alone says a lot about the relationship.

As I see it, black and white photography maintains a respectful distance between the subject and the viewer. Color removes numerous choices and paths.

The Times has a sensitivity toward photography that many newspapers (and certainly most TV producers) do not. It shows in the grab below. The coarseness and aggression in our faces would surely surprise most of us. Once again this story raises interesting thoughts: How did he feel about not seeing these? Did he even have time to think about them, or was he focused on his illness. Did he think about his subjects then, or before very much?

The shutter-click is controversial. If the photographer accidentally clicked, is the result still art? [My belief is that it is. My brother, a painter+photographer, taught me this: “That ‘mistake’ as you call it! is the artist’s. It becomes part of the work.” Convinced me.

When Images Come to Life After Death

The photographer Garry Winogrand was known for imposing an artist’s eye on messy urban life, but when he died in 1984, after a rapidly lethal cancer, he left behind an imposing mess of uncertain artistic value: a third of a million exposed frames of film that he hadn’t edited.

For those of us who capture images with an idea or even a hope in our minds, these photographs stand as evidence. Insofar as the subjects are involved in that moment, it is they who matter most.


Design when it matters: Ian Lurie

Good marketing works. It’s rare that someone just does “creative” and aligns it with an understanding of business, a mission, and objective. Ian Lurie appears to be an exception.

I do not know Mr. Lurie, who lives and works on the West Coast. But from what I have seen, he is my kind of guy. He takes his work seriously enough to be comfortable not being taken too seriously. A perilous path in a very uptight, upright world. But, a lot of fun (living) when you find and connect with others, in business, like you.

It is a place where ego exists as if a puddle of water in which you stand holding the two poles of direct current in either hand. The ego is there. And (suddenly, but not TOO startlingly–we hope) you realize the wrong move or moves will ruin ALL you have been working for. And you will die. Figuratively anyway.

Weird, Useful, Significant: Internet marketing NOW

If you want to succeed on the internet, talk to the slightly weird/obsessed audience who will hang on and pass on your every word. Don’t demand significance. E…

Fresh Phish: “Fuego Works” in Time for Independence Day


Some of the lyrics may be a little wobbly, as great lyrics go. But the sound is unmistakable. And Fuego is a delight. From the first track to the end, this album deserves volume and space. Key tracks: “Wombat”, “The Line” and of course “Fuego.”

The band continues to take steps others may barely discuss; it released the complete Phish Fuego album for listening on NPR, right up to its recent official release. Phish likes to act its members’ beliefs, not simply give them lip-service.

Fuego, “fire” in Spanish comes out just in time for your celebration. No preparation needed. I’m thinking… Fuego-works.

Read More
Listen: “Waiting All Night”


Observing big news in pictures

The implication of the headline was larger than the typeface:

China and Russia Reach 30-Year Gas Deal

But, the moment I saw this front page, above the fold photo by Mark Ralston for the New York Times, I stopped everything.Xi

Is Putin strutting by Xi…? (Really?)

Is Xi bowing? Why…?

The international foreign policy wonks and scholars explained what was happening behind this scene. Putin NEEDED the China deal to shore up his reputation at home. The Ukraine and his aggressive behavior against European nations are winning him few allies. Russia is a land of many peoples–demanding people who respond to strength.

But here is what many people overlooked: An oil deal with China has been in the works for over ten years. The picture may have captured a subtler view of the long term geopolitical story. Ralston was there to capture it. To do so, he HAD to understand what he was seeing. (Or did he? Or did he only see it later…?)

Here’s your assignment. In the photo: Is Xi acknowledging Putin’s short-term by a man (does Xi see Putin as arrogant?) who has not grasped that it is China that ACTUALLY won?

For full NYT story