Eugene Atget

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        July 2013: Eugene Atget Old Paris YouTube Slideshow with music by Erik Satie

        June 2013: Added extensive scans of one of the most haunting books ever. Work of Atget, Vol. 2: The Art of Old Paris, has the best quality scans of Atget's photogrphs that I have ever seen. It is an astonishingly atmospheric book and has been one of my favourite books for years. See it for yourself...

        May 2013: Added large scans of front and back covers of the mammoth Eugene Atget's Paris (Taschen 25th Anniversary Edition). Details here. Brassaļ Book Covers - Smartphone Page.

        Eugene Atget
        Enlarge Image | Eugene Atget - Paris, 1900s


        I've been chasing the ghost of Eugene Atget for years. Trying and failing to photograph London with the same poetic serenity that Atget captured Paris in the early 1900s. I found his work years ago, in a book of his Paris and the ethereal images have stayed with me ever since. Empty old streets that kind of speak of greater glories long since past - you can almost touch the morning dew on the ground for many of the photographs must have been photographed as the city lay sleeping. No-one is around - it is a wispy lighted ghost town, a dreamlike Paris, beyond modern life or crowds or noise. Stillness, echos from the past ... wave on wave of photographs take you to another time, another place.

        All are uniquely Atget. When there are figures they are sometimes blurred like ghosts looking for faces. He preferred a limited number of locations and maybe because he knew them so well fused them with his magic dust of ethereality.

        I'm sure his photographs weren't technically brilliant but that was their strength.

        It is in his imperfections that you find perfection.

        For many years Atget worked as a sailor and then as an actor. He only became a photographer at the age of 42. From then he produced a detailed visual record of Paris and its surroundings, mist interestingly St. Cloud and Versailles. Atget managed to earn a meagre living by selling his images of the city to painters for use as source material. The Parisian historical monuments society also bought images.

        His subject matter consisted of parks, lakes, shop windows, vendors, prostitutes, ragpickers, buildings, flower markets, sculpture gardens, doorways, bridges, and street scenes of Paris. The work could be considered documentation but Atget was so much more. He gave his work a quiet, reflective quality and gave a time gone by an everlasting place in art and history. The prosaic became poetic.

        His work would have been almost forgotten today had it not been for the American photographer Berenice Abbott. Had it not been for her championing of him then he would today be but a rumour, a whisper. She got to know him late in his life when she worked in Paris in the 1920s as an assistant to Man Ray. For the next 40 years of her life she helped his work gain international attention.

        Moreover, what Atget did with Paris she did with New York. London is still waiting for its own Atget or Abbott.

        The magic dust sprinkled over Paris and New York can't get through the clouds, it seems.

        A large number of his many thousands of pictures are in the Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

        © Paul Page, Lenin Imports - 2008

        Eugene Atget Prints at

        eugene atget - organ grinder, 1898 eugene atget - avenue des gobelins, 1927 The Moulin Rouge in Paris, 1921
Photographic Print
by Eugene Atget Entrance of a Brothel in Paris, 106 Rue De Suffren, circa 1900
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget Bedroom of a Female Worker, Rue De Belleville, Paris, 1910
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget
        Interior of the Home of an Employee in the Louvre Shops, Rue St. Jacques, Paris, 1910
Photographic Print
by Eugene Atget Avenue De L'Observatoire, 1926
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget The Concert De Trianon in Paris, 84 Boulevard Rochechouart, September 1900
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget The Cabaret De L'Enfer in Paris, 53 Boulevard De Clichy, circa 1900
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget Hotel Du Grand Veneur in Paris, 60 Rue De Turenne, 1901
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget
        Hotel Du Grand Veneur in Paris, 60 Rue De Turenne, 1901
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget Fontaine De La Reine, Rue Saint-Denis, Paris, 1903
Giclee Print
by Eugene Atget

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