In 1925, while working in Paris as an art studio assistant, American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898–1991) befriended the French photographer Eugène Atget (1857–1927). After Atget passed away two years later, Abbott secured a selection of his glass negatives. She returned to New York City and began a quest to establish Atget’s artistic legacy.
During his career Atget methodically photographed the vestiges of old Paris as the city was swiftly being modernized. Atget had a business selling his photographs as “documents for artists.” His prints were used as reference materials by artists and designers responding to a public nostalgia for the style of the previous era. He captured a broad range of subject matter, from street scenes and architectural interiors to portraits, providing insight into many aspects of daily life.
The prints in this exhibition are a selection from 20 Photographs by Eugène Atget, 1856–1927. In 1956 Abbott published this bound portfolio of gold-toned gelatin silver photographs, which she contact-printed from Atget’s glass dry-plate negatives. Abbott’s selection and printing choices, such as retouching and cropping, emphasize the modern artistic approach she saw in Atget’s photography. Abbott went on to have a successful artistic career and is known for her documentary photographs of New York City.
Top image: Eclipse, Eugène Atget, 1912, printed by Berenice Abbott, 1956. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Fine Arts Center Library.
Right image: Men’s Fashion, Eugène Atget, 1925, printed by Berenice Abbott, 1956. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Fine Arts Center Library.
Wednesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. by reservation only
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