Brilliance. This is what is revealed in the seven albums of contact sheets, that were forgotten and then rediscovered in Lucien Clergue's studio after his death.
14 December 2015
Lucien Clergue's soul was tormented by his painful youth but he had the self-assurance that his mother, who believed he would become an artist, had instilled in him and he soon found a way to express his melancholy through photography which he had just started to practice. He recovered fabric catalogues from his family's shop or from a nearby supplier, tore out the fabric samples and replaced them with his contact sheets. As the albums were the manufacturers' seasonal collections, they were dated and this makes them historical documents. The albums are like tools that allow the best images to be found (the large negatives enable great legibility) and they show, page after page, image after image, the progress in Lucien Clergue's work, his hesitations, intuitions, certainties, and how he advances towards what would be the quintessence of his work. Today, photographers no longer use this technique because digital photography has done away with paper contact sheets. Utmost care is taken by traditional film enthusiasts when they handle recent and old contact sheets, with their annotations,and soft pencil selection marks.