EUGENE ATGET, Fete du Trone, 1924


EUGENE ATGET (French, 1857 – 1927)

Jean-Eugene Auguste Atget was a commercial photographer who devoted more than thirty years of his life to the task of documenting the city of Paris, its environs, and the French countryside in more than eight thousand photographs. Atget’s oeuvre brilliantly explains the great richness, complexity and authentic character of his native culture.

With an uncompromising eye, Atget recorded the picturesque villages and the landscape of France; the storied chateaux and the romantic parks and gardens of Louis XIV’s ancien regime; and, in Paris, architectural details, private courtyards, quaint shop windows, curious buildings and streets and various denizens of the urban scene of his times. 

Had it not been for the insight of Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget's life's work might have vanished into obscurity. With the assistance of the renowned American art dealer Julien Levy, Abbott acquired, in 1928, a substantial number of Atget's of prints and glass plate negatives. Abbott had originally seen Atget's photographs in the studio of her mentor, Man Ray. The foundation of the photography collection at the Museum of Modern Art was founded on the acquisition of five thousand of these prints and plates insuring their longevity in history. The breadth of Atget’s portfolios and the privacy of his life have challenged scholars and produced some of the most poetic essays written on any artist.

Selected Collections:

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Chicago Art Institute

International Museum of Photography, George Eastman House, Rochester, NY

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

San Francisco Museum of Art

National Gallery of Canada

New Orleans Museum of Art

Archives Photographiques, Paris