gypsies are part of my life. When I was a young kid my mother was telling
me "if you are not a nice boy the gypsies will take you with them"
They were a lot in the city in May because on the 14th they come to the
pilgrimage celebrating Sarah, their goddess.
the end of the World War II, my home was destroyed and we move to the gypsies
streets, where I grew up in the middle of the parents of the one who became
the Gypsy Kings.
was fascinated by the social organization of this people living in house
during the winter time, and in caravan the rest of the year, no representation
of dead people, no past, no future.
every year to the pilgrimage I became close friend to some tribes, and was
accepted to photograph their intimate. One day I found a family from the
North, very "Flemish's" out of painting by Jeronimus Busch, I
couldn't believe. As I was poor I put my film in my camera only if I took
very interesting. Suddenly I realize it was incredible and they are at the
end of my book now.
is were I discovered Manitas de Plata. I had some of his photographs at
the show Edward Steichen gave me at the Museum of Modern art in New York,
in 1961. A record company manager visiting the show ask me "is there
Manitas de Plata?" "Yes, here and there, and again in this picture"
"OK, I want to record him, could you help me?" And this is how
I became manager of one of the stars of the sixties, performing at the UN,
14 times at the Carnegie Hall, and recording four CDs.
poet Jean Cocteau was painting a chapel in Villefranche-sur-Mer, near Nice.
After seeing my photographs, he decided to use them for some of the frescoes
of St. Peter.
wrote a foreword for a book to be published. But we were not happy with
the layout. No book. I had to wait 40 years to publish the body of work
with his text. But now the gypsies are accepted and my book will give them
a chance to see how were looking their ancestors.
Lucien Clergue, May, 1997.
Lucien Clergue can be reached at email@example.com
Les Gitans, Marval
Collection, Pour la Mémoire,France, 1996. http://www.marval.com
California Museum of Photography, Exhibition of Nudes by Lucien
Soleil des Saintes-Maries by Manitas de Plata (solo Manitas)
SBK Songs 1978. ©1995, Sony Music Entertainment (France) S.A.