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Atget Hardcover – February 2, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Hardcover, February 2, 2004
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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.
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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: 10 x 1 x 12.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,329 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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 Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful book. I did a term paper in grad school on Atget at the U of Arizona and was able to copy Atget's actual work shooting it with a big Polaroid camera supplied by the Center for Creative Photography on the campus. Both the museum worker and I had a big grin on our faces doing this work. Atget was actually co-opted by the Surrealists during the 20's and his photographs often could be seen in their shows at the time. His most surrealistic work being "Avenue des Gobelins" with heads floating above headless mannequins as an example . I showed how Atget was never a Surrealist comparing his work to another photographer in Paris at the time Charles Marvel although he had a much better photographic eye. This book has great reproductions and I wouldn't hesitate to buy it.
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