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Alain Daniélou

Alain Daniélou playing the Vînâ, 1979. Credit: Sophie Bassouls
Alain Daniélou playing the Vînâ, 1979. Photo: Sophie Bassouls

The French-born, polyhedric scholar Alain Daniélou first visited India in the early 1930s, later living there between Delhi, Varanasi and Madras until the 1960’s. During this time, he met and worked with the Nobel Laureate Tagore; he was a Sanskrit scholar, making important contribution to Indology with his writings on the ancient wisdom of the Veda, Hindu philosophy, and Shaivism. Also well versed in western music, he studied Indian music and was appointed professor at the Hindu University of Varanasi in 1949 and later, director of the College of Indian Music. He was one of the first Westerners to photograph India’s ancient temple complexes together with Raymond Burnier, their works on the temple of Khajuraho being exhibited at New York’s Metropolitan Museum and then later founded the International Institute for Comparative Music Studies and Documentation in Berlin and Venice.

Among the various recognitions for his work, we cite: UNESCO-CIM Prize for Music (1981), the UNESCO Kathmandu Medal (1987), the Cervo Prize for new music (1991). He was appointed officer of the Legion of Honour, the National Order of Merit, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France) and Fellow of the National Indian Academy of Music and Dance.

Raymond Burnier

Raymond Burnier in the garden of Zagarolo
Raymond Burnier in the garden of Zagarolo

Born in Lausanne – Switzerland, Raymond Burnier (1912 – 1968) took up photography at a professional level at a very early age. He travelled extensively to China, Japan, Indonesia, Afghanistan and the United States to settle in India in 1938.

An adept Leica user, he also showed great interest for medieval Hindu sculpture (IX to XIV centuries). He was the first photographer to bring to the West the magnificence of the great temples of Khajurâho, Bhubaneswar and Konârak. He was appointed member of the Indian archaeological services and acted as the official photographer for many important sites and temples in central India.

He was very much influenced by the works of Cecil Beaton who was his guest in India and was also inspiration of the renowned Italian photographer Angelo Frontoni.

Jacques Cloarec

Jacques Cloarec with Alain Daniélou

Born in Brest, France Jacques Cloarec started his professional career as a teacher with a great interest in Celtic folklore and tradition. He moved to Paris where he later met Alain Daniélou in 1962.

He then moved to West Berlin where he lived for 15 years and later, in Venice for the next 5 as Alain Daniélou had opened branches of the Institute for Comparative Music Studies in both these cities.

During that period, Jacques Cloarec took on the arduous task of cataloguing the photographic archive of Raymond Burnier and at the same time, accompanied groups of Indian classical musicians and dancers on tour in Europe.

A talented photographer, from 1981 he started to photography the choreographic works of Maurice Béjart and ― as member of the Paris “Salon d’Automne” ― he has regularly exhibited his works in various locations in that city.

Since the demise of Alain Daniélou in 1994, Jacques Cloarec has ensured that the Master’s work continue to be available for those seeking greater understanding of Hinduism and Shaivism. He is involved in the on-going cataloguing of the enormous quantity of documentation left by Alain Daniélou, and the translation and publishing of Alain Daniélou’s works as well as acting as Honorary President of FIND – India-Europe Foundation for New Dialogues.


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