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Atget the Pioneer Hardcover – November 30, 2000
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From Library Journal
Atget's impressive body of work is permanently linked to the city of Paris. Originally, he photographed models for artists who then painted from the photos, and when Paris was being modernized he was paid to record the buildings of Old Paris. While the artist insisted that the photographs were just "documents," his work gradually became centered on the social life of Paris's lower classes. Throughout his career, he eschewed the so-called landmarks of Paris in favor of coal carts, peddlers, and deadpan images of building facades from every arrondissement. For decades, he has been admired by fellow artists; Man Ray collected his work, and Berenice Abbot bought and preserved much of her Atget collection and donated the archive to MOMA. And Atget has had immeasurable influence on contemporary photography, from Bernd and Hilla Becher's industrial scenes to Thomas Ruff's portraits. This latest volume in Taschen's series of large-format monographs presenting the work of eminent photographers successfully conveys the quality and range of Atget's work. As always, the reproductions are very fine, and the biographical essay, if not revelatory, succeeds in introducing the artist to a new audience. Atget the Pioneer, produced to accompany an exhibition traveling from Paris to New York later this year, picks up where the previous volume leaves off. The authors, conservators at the Biblioth que Nationale, trace Atget's influence by juxtaposing his works with those of other luminaries, from August Sander and Walker Evans to Bill Brandt and Lee Friedlander. The three essays here successfully convey Atget's range of influence, and some of the sepia-toned images are breathtaking. In its own way, each of these books complements John Szarkowski's recent Atget (LJ 9/15/00), which delved into analysis of individual pictures. Libraries that can afford all three would have an excellent and complete record of the man's work. Small libraries could make do with Taschen's affordable volume, with Atget the Pioneer a close second choice.DDouglas McClemont, New York
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
The work of the great French photographer Eugene Atget (1856-1927) are already internationally known through many books. His role as a highly influential pioneer of photography is less well appreciated. This beautiful book explores Atget's legacy through his own photographs and those of his successors, names who are themselves legends in the history of the art: Berenice Abbott, Hilla and Bernd Becher, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander, August Sander and many more. During his lifetime Atget's work held a fascination for contemporary Surrealistic artists such as Man Ray; Walker Evans later drew on Atget's unflinching views of the Paris backstreets to create his own image of urban life; Cubism too found inspiration in the tightly framed spaces of Atget's Parisian streets.
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