Sunday, September 29, 2013

Eugène Atget, 1857-1827

"These are simply documents I make"

Eugène Atget; flâneur, photographer of turn of the century Paris.

Abhorred by the modern movement and it's infringement on the historic quality of Paris Eugène Atget made it his life's work to document the sense of 'Old Paris'. Atget did this through photographing not only the laneways, slums, bridges,stairways which constituted pre revolution Paris but also the street vendors, prostitutes and beggars which contributed to the fabric of the Parisian street scene. He seems to have identified with the peripheries of everyday life, facing his camera away from the bustle and concentrating on the overlooked.

Atget's primary source of income was selling his images as study documents for artists and architects from his studio in Montparnasse and it was here where he gained notoriety among the surrealist movement. The wispy sense of light resulting from his very long exposure times created an eerie ghost like scene. This new take on his subject; the everyday and ordinary things of Parisian life and the way his images seemed to capture a sense of ambience with their wide angle views attracted the attention of Man Ray. By this stage Atget's technique and equipment were well antiquated his large bellows camera being 60 years old yet he refused the use of the newer equipment of his new acquaintance Man Ray . These encounters began 2 years before Atget's death and saw him being published for the first time in Man Ray's 'La Révolution Surréaliste'. It is only after his death in 1827 that he received renown for his work in part thanks to a young Berenice Abbott who published his work into the book 'The World of Atget'

Prostitute on her Shift, Rue Asselin, Paris
An figure typical  of Atget's documentation
of the peripheries of Paris
Gladiateur Mourant; Gardens of Versailles
Aget seems to wish to convey the fall into disrepair of old 

Barges on the Seine opposite La Consiergerie,
 1er Arondissement 1923
Here Atget's long exposure perfectly 
capture the
ambience of a Winter's morning on the seine.

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