Eugène Atget

Eugène Atget's Trees: Newly Discovered Photographs from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
by Eugene Atget
Publisher's Description
Atget's work is a simple revelation of the simplest aspects of his environment. There is no superimposed symbolic motive, no tortured application of design, no intellectual ax to grind. The Atget prints are direct and emotionally clean records of a rare and subtle perception, and represent perhaps the earliest expression of true photographic art. -Ansel Adams, He will be remembered as an urbanist historian, a genuine romanticist, a lover of Paris, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization. -Berenice Abbott

When Eugène Atget was still alive, photographs and photographers were considered in a different light than they are today. At that time, no one would have dreamed of considering Atget an artist; he himself seems to have concurred, maintaining that the pictures he sold-at a price of 1 to 3 francs-were no more than documents. Libraries and museums constituted some of his most important clients; between 1900 and 1927, the Department of Prints and Photography of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France acquired thousands of his views of 'old Paris.' The manner of selecting these works remains obscure, but in 1995, after a laborious round of locating and classifying the historical photographs held by the department, a group of 39 hitherto unknown images by Atget were discovered. These studies of trees in the park at Saint-Cloud are essentially portraits of trees, some full-length, some details of roots or trunks-each a uniquely stark, high contrast abstraction of a genteel forest through the seasons. Found in their original envelope in the libraries archives, they had remained essentially untouched since they being purchased in July 1923. The envelope originally contained 111 photographs, bought for the sum total of 333 francs; the balance of the images featured more typical views of balustrades, statues, and terraces, and were published in a documentary volume on the park. The 39 images reproduced here for the first time were considered too abstract to stand as proper documentation. Without a framework for understanding such an image an artwork, they almost disappeared.
ISBN: 1891024671
Publisher: D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Leather Bound : 96 pages
Language: English
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