Paris’ Musée Carnavalet, devoted to all things Parisian, hosts an exhibition of 230 photographs by the legendary documentary photographer Eugène Atget (until July 29, 2012). This exceptional exhibition of Atjet prints, glass negatives and albums made between 1898 and 1927 brings together collections from the Carnavalet Museum, supplemented by Atjet photos purchased by Man Ray currently at the George Eastman House in Rochester and pictures from the Madrid Fundacion Mapfre collection.
Atjet photographed with his large format camera using 18×24 glass negatives the old Paris. His photographs depict the narrow lanes and courtyards in the historic city center with its old buildings, of which some were soon to be demolished, magnificent palaces from the period before the French Revolution, bridges and quays on the banks of the Seine and shops with their window displays.
Atjet earned money selling his photos to artists. A sign outside his door read “Eugène Atget: Documents pour artistes.”He sold thousands of his photographs to the Musée Carnavalet and the Bibliothèque Historique de la Ville de Paris. The Bibliothèque commissioned Atjet in 1906 to systematically photograph old buildings in Paris. He moved to Montparnasse in 1899 and lived there until his death in 1927. Man Ray was his neighbor on rue Campagne-Première in Monparnasse during the 20’s. The exhibition includes a portrait of Atjet taken just before his death in 1927 by Man Ray’s then assistant Berenice Abbot.
The exhibition is organized according to Atjet’s themes such as “petits metiers”, “La Seine” and “Les Rues.” An entire room is devoted to an album purchased by Man Ray, who considered some of Atjet’s pictures such as”l’Eclipse, place de la Bastille (included in the exhibition)” as surreal. Ray published some of Atjet’s photos in the magazine “La revolution surrealiste.”
According to some estimates Atjet made over 10,000 photos of Paris. Most of the photos in the exhibition are vintage prints. For perspective the exhibition includes postcards and photos taken by an Atjet contemporary Emmanuel Pottier who also photographed Paris.
Eugène Atjet, Paris, to July 29, 2012, Musée Carnavalet, 23, rue de Sévigné, 75003 Paris.