Eugène Atget Magasin, avenue des Gobelins 1925

  • Not on view

For more than three decades, Atget photographed Paris—its ancient streets and monuments and finely wrought details, its corners and hovels and modern commerce, and its outlying parks. He was not an artist in the conventional sense but a specialized craftsman, who supplied pictorial records of French culture to artists, antiquarians, and librarians. That, at least, is how he earned his living. Shortly before his death, however, other photographers began to recognize that Atget's work is art in everything but name: full of wit, invention, beauty, wisdom, and the disciplined cultivation of original perceptions.

This picture of the front of a men's clothing store belongs to a series of photographs of store windows that Atget made in the highly creative last years of his life. He easily could have minimized the reflection in the window, in which we see part of the Gobelins complex, where tapestries had been made for nearly three centuries. Instead, he welcomed it. Indelibly melding two images into one, the photograph simultaneously evokes France's modern fashions and one of her most noble artistic traditions.

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 114.
Gelatin silver printing-out-paper print
8 1/4 × 6 1/2" (21 × 16.7 cm)
Abbott-Levy Collection. Partial gift of Shirley C. Burden
Object number

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