The New York Times of October 2, 2010, had a feature article on Eugène Atget, the Balzac of the Camera, the French photographer noted for his photographs documenting the architecture and street scenes of Paris. Between 1897 and 1927 Atget captured the old Paris in his photos showing the city in its various facets: narrow lanes and courtyards, magnificent palaces, bridges and quays on the banks of the Seine and shops with window displays. He produced innumerable views of the parks of Versailles, Saint-Cloud, Tuileries Gardens and Parc de Sceaux. In addition to architecture and the urban environment, he also photographed street vendors, small tradesmen, rag collectors and prostitutes, as well as fairs and popular amusements.
Berenice Abbott was instrumental in introducing Atget's Paris for the rest of the world. She became interested in his work when she was an assistant to Atget's Montparnasse neighbor Man Ray. She promoted his work by sending friends to purchase his pictures. After his death in 1927 Abbott arranged for New York's Museum of Modern Art to buy his archive, and through a series of exhibitions and publications Atget finally entered the pantheon of "Masters" of photography. Abbot wrote of Atget, "He was an urbanist historian, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization."
Although the Museum of Modern Art now has some 5,000 of Alget's prints and negatives, I could find only two photos of Alget himself.
To read the New York Times article click here:
Parc de Saint-Cloud
Parc de Sceaux
Place du Tertre-1922
Quai d'Anjou...photograph taken much later on to demonstrate the changing vista of Paris
Street Walker-1921-waiting for a client
rue de Valencia-1922
Maison Romano-rue Mouffetard
106 rue de Suffrenne---Entrance of a Brothel
Carousel (our Merry-Go-Round?)
Au Tambour, 63 Quai de la Tournelle-1908
rue des Ursins-1923
Le Pont (pedestrians only) des Amoureux
The streets, buildings and people live in Atget's photos, a chronicle of a whole epoch, as in Balzac's pages. For more Atget photos documenting Paris street scenes--click here: