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Atget Hardcover – February 2, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The Museum of Modern Art, New York; First edition (February 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0870700944
  • ISBN-13: 978-0870700941
  • Product Dimensions: 12.2 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #301,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In this day and age, we've pretty much taken photography for granted as an integral part of everyday life. There is the immediacy of Polaroids and the limitlessness of disposable cameras, which make a picture taken today a distant cousin to the practice of early photography. Occasionally we need reminding of the roots of photographic image-making, the glass plates, hand-coated emulsion, and massive amounts of other accouterments that were needed to make one image. In Atget, a selection from the lifetime work of legendary French photographer Eugène Atget (1857-1927), we enter the world of early-20th-century photography, which was beginning to bid farewell to the handcrafted picture.

Atget was poised on the cusp between the techniques and materials of early photography and the moment things began to change and modern photography was born. From a laborious and time-consuming process came a much faster method that changed the nature of photography forever. Seemingly overnight, the photograph went from being a precious object to something on its way to being accessible to all. Atget was among the first generation to photographically capture the world of ordinary citizens. While the subject matter was new, he was nevertheless steeped in the tradition of the old-world photograph. A crooked door knocker is captured with loving attention to detail, an air of preciousness still present. Spindly trees, store windows, public gardens--each picture is delicate and romantic. It makes you wonder if absolutely everything was more beautiful in France. Included in the book are insightful commentaries for each of the 100 tritone photographs and five duotones, plus a great introduction by John Szarkowski, former director of the Department of Photography at the MOMA. --J.P. Cohen --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Eug ne Atget was a commercial photographer who spent 30 years producing more than 8000 pictures of Paris and its surrounding countryside before his death in 1927, when American photographer Berenice Abbott purchased his archives. Though he was unknown during his lifetime, his place in photography continues to grow; at times, he seems to be the Gallic brother of Walker Evans. Was Atget's aim to produce a kind of travel guide to a part of France he revered or to capture the elegance of places, courtyards, and gardens for wealthy clients? We will never know, but both of these books sum up the mystery of his intent and the serenity of his camera eye by describing his work as "enigmatic." Szarkowski, who may be our best navigator through images of lightDhe was director of the department of photography at MoMA from 1962 to 1991Dcarefully gathers 100 photographs, taking us through a sepia-toned era where Atget's silence abounds as he lovingly describes what the photographer captured. The Getty book, part of the museum's "In Focus" series, is less ambitious and might serve as a small but representative introduction to the special legacy of Atget. Useful descriptions accompanying each picture will help students, but the black-and-white reproduction and the two-column text make the images seem colder and the book less inviting than Szarkowski's sepia and margin-to-margin text. Where budgets allow, Szarkowski's approach to Atget is recommended, with the Getty version a second choice.DDavid Bryant, New Canaan Lib., CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

John Szarkowski (December 18, 1925 - July 7, 2007) was a photographer, curator, historian, and critic. From 1962 to 1991 Szarkowski was the Director of Photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art.

Customer Reviews

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The result is a richness that reveals something new every time we look at it.
D. Johnson
If you love (really looking at) photographs, you should consider your shelves incomplete without it.
Lisa M Clifford
Mr. Szarkowski offers wonderful chunks of history and parcels of context to embrace each image.
Helen Starkweather

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
ATGET is a beautiful book of 100 images faced by 100 one-page commentaries by John Szarkowski, plus his 8 page introduction. In other words, it has the same format as his LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS. The reproductions are excellent. The commentaries are an intertaining mix of photographic history, insight into subject matter (basketmaking, tree pruning, automobiles), and analysis of the formal qualites that make the photographs classics. What we have here is a distillation of what the best photographic curator of the 20th Century has to say about one of the best photographers of the 20th Century.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Helen Starkweather on October 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
John Szarkowski has chosen one hundred extraordinary photographs by Eugene Atget, to explore in a book entitled in a grand elegant serif typeface simplicity "ATGET". Turning pages in this book, is the beginning of a journey that describes over and over again, less is more. This is a delicious book. In these beautifully printed reproductions, Atget offers mocha cobblestones and cocoa dusted buildings rising out of lavender gray mist, moldy peach bark grows on his trees, cream lilies are carved out of the dark chocolate of a pond, silver pumpkin leaves glisten, putty sunlit mists of dust drift through an overstuffed room. Each photograph seems so simple and quiet at first glance, but don't be fooled. Look, and look again because they are teeming with spirits and secrets and the steps just taken off stage. Look for reflections in glass and mirrors and water, curtains pulled to one side, a pigeon toed mannequin, the cavernous, black block of an entrance to a side show. Each plate invites imagination with Szarkowski's insights and suggestions. Many of the images are of people who have just left, and the people who will arrive, and John Szarkowski's elegant prose allows the reader to dive into these square frames to float in a France of the early 1900's and wonder. Mr. Szarkowski offers wonderful chunks of history and parcels of context to embrace each image. Atget and Szarkowski are fine partners.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Lisa M Clifford on December 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Again, John Szarkowski takes us by the hand and leads us into the photographs of Eugene Atget, as through the magic of a looking glass. In these writings, on a selection of photographs from the first quarter of the 20th century, in his historically aware and individual way, Szarkowski instructs on how to read a photograph by doing so himself. We not only see into the environs of Paris through the eyes of the eclectic, determined and tender Atget, but also through the eyes and the keen, attentive mind of Szarkowski, who writes as though he lives inside these pictures, and tends them, and the photographer, with great devotion.
This edition is set up by the previous 4 volume study, The Work of Atget, by Maria Morris Hambourg and John Szarkowski, Museum of Modern Art, 1985. But this new book comes from a persistent, deep seam miner, one who knows that what it is about these photographs is so fertile, they can be studied throughout one's life, and still give more.
How rich is the mind that can bring another mind to light? Would it be bearable if everything in life could be keyed into focus, for us too busy and bothered to pay attention, by a poet as revelatory as Szarkowski? When considering entree des jardins, 1921-22, he says, "except occasionally, as (for example) during revolutions, the French have managed very well to sublimate the periodic human tendency to behave violently toward one's fellow human men, and have directed these impulses toward their trees", you cannot help but love the gardener who built the gate here, the photographer for seeing it, and Szarkowski, for bringing it to our attention in this way.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey P. Smith on March 13, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book works perfectly on so many levels. A great selection of photographs, beautiful reproductions, great design, and complementing the photographs, some of the best writing about the work that I have read. Mr Szarkowski communicates a sense of wonder, mixed with curiosity, about these works, but the overall tone is almost elegaic. Studying these photographs with attention to the details unfolded has brought out the best in the writer....the prose seems ready to vanish into time in the same way the subjects of these photos have, leaving wistfulness and a sense of melancholy. Mr Szarkowski's method of writing about or around each of the reproductions is quite unique in my experience, and there is a beautiful symbiosis...the word and the picture, each seemingly commenting on each other. Bottom line:this book is an essential soon-to-be classic. Buy it before it disappears into the mists of time.
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Format: Hardcover
Eugene Atget is known to everyone, perhaps not by name in all instances, but at least by the images of Paris and environs that grace all manner of books, essays, brochures, museums, art collections, and postcards throughout the world. At the time of his death in 1927 his enormous output of images was archived and has subsequently been studied, purchased and shared with exhibitions too numerous to mention. Yet in this fine book the essence of Atget the observer is appreciated as well as any publication of the many about the pioneering photographer, a man who served as an important bridge from studio formality of the art to entering the human realm of images of people on the streets of Paris and the surrounding areas.

Each of the 100 tritone and 5 duotone photographs in this elegant volume is accompanied by an insightful comment by the superb writer John Szarkowski who also happens to be the former director of the Department of Photography at the MOMA in New York. Rarely have photographic images been so enhanced by the written word: Szarkowski is in complete synchrony with the vision of Atget. Here are images of simple people of early 20th century Paris, images of streets, still lifes, woods, streams, rivers great and small, each captured with immediacy and yet with timelessness.

For those looking for an affordable introduction of Atget's work for the library, this is certainly the volume of choice. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 06
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