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The Photographic Record

Since its inception, photography has helped build a collective archive of human experience.


22 rue Cuincampoix, cour

Eugène Atget
(French, 1857–1927)

1912. Albumen silver print, 8 11/16 x 7 3/16" (22 x 18.2 cm)

Eugène Atget made thousands of photographs he called “documents pour artistes” (Documents for artists), images to be used as source material and inspiration for painters and sculptors. Wandering through his native city, Atget sought to capture the remaining streets, shops, parks, and architecture of Paris—those parts relatively untouched by the forces of modernity.

Atget’s style of photography differed from the prevailing taste at the time. His photographs were generally in sharp focus, unlike his contemporary Pictorialist photographers. He considered himself a commercial photographer, and therefore did not consider his photographs to be fine art, but rather visual records to capture a certain view of Paris for posterity.

A distinctive or characteristic manner of expression.

An international style of photography in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by the creation of artistic tableaus and photographs composed of multiple prints or manipulated negatives, in an effort to advocate for photography as an artistic medium on par with painting.

An element or substance out of which something can be made or composed.

Fun Fact!
In total Eugène Atget took over 8,500 photographs of Paris in his lifetime—a huge feat considering that he used cumbersome early cameras and glass negatives.