2061 / 2062 / 2063 / 2064 / 2065 /
1948 / 1947 / 1946 / 1435
|Size||120 x 100|
Eugene Atget (1857-1927) was a French photographer noted for his photographs documenting the architecture and street scenes of Paris. Berenice Abbott once said, in reference to Atget’s photographs…Their impact was immediate and tremendous. There was a sudden flash of recognition—the shock of realism adorned. The subjects were not sensational, but nevertheless shocking in their very familiarity. The real world, seen with wonderment and surprise, was mirrored in each print.
Jean-Eugène-Auguste Atget was born 12 February 1857 in Libourne. His father, carriage builder Jean-Eugène Atget, died in 1862, and his mother, Clara-Adeline Atget née Hourlier died shortly after; he was an orphan at age seven. He was brought up by his maternal grandparents in Bordeaux and after finishing secondary education joined the merchant navy. Atget moved to Paris in 1878. He failed the entrance exam for acting class but was admitted when he had a second try. Because he was drafted for military service he could attend class only part-time, and he was expelled from drama school.
Still living in Paris, he became an actor with a travelling group, performing in the Paris suburbs and the provinces. He met actress Valentine Delafosse Compagnon, who became his companion until her death. He gave up acting because of an infection of his vocal cords in 1887, moved to the provinces and took up painting without success. When he was thirty he made his first photographs, of Amiens and Beauvais, which date from 1888.
In 1890, Atget moved back to Paris and became a professional photographer, supplying documents for artists: studies for painters, architects, and stage designers. Starting in 1898, institutions such as the Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque Historique de la ville de Paris bought his photographs. The latter commissioned him ca. 1906 to systematically photograph old buildings in Paris. In 1899 he moved to Montparnasse.
While being a photographer Atget still also called himself an actor, giving lectures and readings. During World War I Eugène Atget temporarily stored his archives in his basement for safekeeping and almost completely gave up photography. Valentine's son Léon was killed at the front. In 1920–21, he sold thousands of his negatives to institutions. Financially independent, he took up photographing the parks of Versailles, Saint-Cloud and Sceaux and produced a series of photographs of prostitutes.
Berenice Abbott, while working with Man Ray, visited Atget in 1925, bought some of his photographs, and tried to interest other artists in his work. She continued to promote Atget through various articles, exhibitions and books and sold her Atget collection to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968. In 1926, Atget's partner Valentine died, and before he saw the full-face and profile portraits that Abbott took of him in 1927, showing him “slightly stooped…tired, sad, remote, appealing”, Eugène Atget died on August 4th in 1927, in Paris.
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