About the Author
EugEne Atget was born near Bordeaux, in France, in 1857, and was raised by an uncle from an early age after the deaths of his parents. He became a cabin boy and sailor, and traveled widely until 1879, when he entered the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Paris. He studied there for two years and worked as a minor actor for the next few years, during which period he devloped a relationship with the actress Valentine Delafosse, who later became his photographic assistant, and with whom he lived for the rest of his life. Unsuccessful as an actor and later as a painter, he finally picked up photography in 1898, at age 40. Over the next 30 years, using obsolete equipment (an 18 x 24 cm bellows camera, rectilinear lenses, a wooden tripod, and a few plate holders), he made over 10,000 photographs of the daily appearance of a rapidly changing Paris. Most of these were sold as documents to libraries and museums, as well as to artists, stage designers, and interior decorators. Perhaps it was not until 1926, when Man Ray published a few of Atget's photographs in the magazine La rEvolutions surrEaliste, that his work began to be appreciated as art. Atget died one year later, but the appreciation of his work has only grown exponentially since.
David Campany is a writer, artist, and lecturer of photography at the University of Westminster, London. He is the author of many articles on contemporary art and photography. His book Art and Photography was published by Phaidon Press in 2003. He is also a cofounder of Photoforum, an organization bringing together artists and writers working with the photographic image.