Lucien Clergue and the gypsies

Among the many sources of inspiration of Lucien Clergue , the Gypsy community.
22 December 2015
Lucien Clergue, Draga en robe à pois, Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, 1957 ; tirage moderne argentique ; 60 x 50 cm © Atelier Lucien Clergue
There is a large community of Gypsies in Arles and many of them have settled there. Every year, in May, they are joined by nomadic peoples from all over Europe who are on a pilgrimage to the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer to worship their patron Saint Sara. For a long time, this community lived in a closed circle, preserving its traditions and rituals and it had a festive spirit that did not fail to attract Lucien Clergue. He made a fine collection of photographs recording their everyday lives, their festivities and fairground activities which contrasted with the more poetic studies he placed at the centre of his work. Through his association with the Gypsy community, he met Manitas de Plata and his friend José Reyes, also a musician, who he helped gain world renown as he did later with the Gipsy Kings, in which José Reyes' son played. Before becoming famous themselves, the Gipsy Kings used to play regularly to the guests that Lucien Clergue invited to the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie.
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