Gelatin silver print
Image: 30.9 x 24.9 cm (12 3/16 x 9 13/16 in.); Paper: 39.2 x 29.6 cm (15 7/16 x 11 5/8 in.); Matted: 55.9 x 45.7 cm (22 x 18 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Mann and Lucien Clergue 1996.412
© Lucien Clergue/SAIF, Paris/VAGA, New York
An important chapter in Clergue's distinguished career was his photographs of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Clergue first approached Picasso in 1953 after a bullfight at the Roman arena in Arles, France. Picasso looked at the 19-year-old photographer's images and told him to return in one year. But three years passed before Clergue felt that his work was worthy of another visit. Picasso's enthusiasm and generosity sparked a warm and lasting friendship that continued until the older artist's death and resulted in numerous photographic portraits. In this example, the dark background causes the viewer to focus solely on the subject, whose eyes stare directly at the lens. The dramatic highlights accentuate the sitter's intense face and expressive hands (the right holds a cigarette much like a paintbrush). Picasso's hand and arm also create a shadow resembling a dove, a symbol of peace that he frequently used in his paintings.
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