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Looking at Atget (Philadelphia Museum of Art) Hardcover – October 11, 2005


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Product Details

  • Series: Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Hardcover: 136 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (October 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300111371
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300111378
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 9.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,320,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paris at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries is almost synonymous with the massive photographic record of Eugène Atget, whose achievement in capturing the entire range of life and location in the great capital—from prostitute to aristocrat, from stable to palace—is rivaled only by Balzac. Graced with excellent and well-chosen reproductions, including 10 that have never appeared before, Barberie's book is a keen and subtle overview of the photographer's work. And it is conveniently published to coincide with this fall's much-anticipated Atget retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The show is derived from two important collections: that of fellow photographer Berenice Abbott, who purchased the contents of Atget's studio at his death in 1927, and that of dealer Julien Levy, who purchased thousands of images from Abbott and helped her establish Atget as a central figure in modernism. Using the two collectors as a way into Atget's world, Barberie contrasts their viewpoints, tracing how Abbott could promote Atget as a "great 'styleless' photographer who recorded the world around him with humility" while Levy praised him as a "proto-Surrealist." The additional section on photographic materials (written by Beth A. Price and Ken Sutherland) bolster's the book's air of definitiveness with its fascinating, if technical, details on printing, binders, etc. In short, this book makes an elegant shelf mate for the Taschen volume that is beloved by Francophiles around the world. (Oct.)
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About the Author

Peter Barberie is the Horace W. Goldsmith Fellow in Photography, Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By D. Johnson on November 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a catalog of the excellent show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It is about a collection and Julien Levy, the collector, N.Y. gallery owner and champion of the avant-garde. Berenice Abbott and Julien Levy worked together to collect, conserve and promote Atget's work and a large amount of the collection (361 prints) was given to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Barberie's essay, which is the heart of the catalog is informed and well written. It clarifies some questions of Atget's position among the Paris artist's of the 20's, including some opinions of May Ray, Duchamp, Brancusi and other friends of Levy. This is the best part of Barbie's writing.

There is a second essay on the techniques use by Atget in his printing and by Abbott in her experiments to print from Atget's negatives. This writing is interesting as far as it goes, but it creates more questions than it answers and has a few minor errors.

This catalog is not a survey of Atget's work and it is not a high quality coffee table book of prints. If you want either of these you should look to the publications and writing of John Szarkowski and Maria Morris Hambourg of MOMA, the authoritative refrences used in this excellent catalog from Philadelphia. If you are an art historian this might be a good introduction to a couple of important, perhaps heroic collectors.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter Barr on February 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book was a pleasure to read and will appeal to anyone interested in Eugene Atget, the history of photography, or early twentieth-century European and American modernism. It presents in rich duotone color about 100 photographs from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of almost 400 Eugene Atget prints, most of which the Museum acquired in 2001, as well as approximately a dozen other images that the authors included for comparison purposes. It was published at the time of the Museum's exhibition of Atget photographs, September to November 2005.

While more than a dozen books are currently available about Atget's work, this one makes a substantial and distinctive contribution by focusing primarily on Julien Levy, the collector and art dealer who assembled most of the Atget images in the Philadelphia Museum's collection. It also places Levy's activities within the circle of his American friends who also admired Atget's work in the late 1920s, especially Man Ray and Berenice Abbott. Moreover, it provides a welcome and accessible overview of the often contentious scholarship that has emerged over the last twenty five year about Atget's intentions by succinctly summarizing the writings of such luminaries in the field as Maria Morris Hambourg, John Szarkowski, Molly Nesbit, Abigail Solomon-Godeau and David Travis. Plus, the book contains a brief, technical essay on Atget's photographic materials, written by the Museum's conservation scientists Beth A. Price and Ken Sutherland.

This is no mere coffee table book--although I would be happy to display it on my coffee table--but rather a beautifully designed, scholarly publication with seven pages of endnotes and selected bibliography.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Murphy on October 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
If you are a dyed in the wool Atget fan, and have over, let's say, 10 books of his work in your personal library, this is another you'll like to add to your collection. For those just getting into Atget, there are other, less expensive books to start with, that are not as in depth, and do not include the highly specialized section about the physical properties of the actual prints in the museum's collection. As a photographer, I found that section interesting, but the average viewer probably does not need this information.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Stacy on October 31, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant. An absolute must for those interested photography. This beautiful book places Atget in a historical context that allows the reader to truly see why Atget made such a huge impact in the art world.

Get it!
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