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The Work of Atget: Old France

3 October 1981 to 3 January 1982

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MoMA Staff

John Szarkowski  American, 1925–2007


Eugène Atget
French, 1857–1927
33 exhibitions

New York Times Review of the exhibition


6 December 1981


By Andy Grundberg

THE WORK OF ATGET Volume One. Old France. By John Szarkowski and Maria Morris Hambourg. Illustrated. 177 pp. New York: The Museum of Modern Art/Distributed by New York Graphic Society. $40. When Eugene Atget died in Paris in 1927, he was a little-known photographer. Today, thanks largely to the foresight of photographer Berenice Abbott, who rescued and preserved some 5,000 of his prints and negatives, Atget is considered by many to be the most important photographer of the 20th century, if not in the history of photography. This remarkable rise to prominence, based on a style that is at once documentary and expressive, is even more remarkable considering that Atget's work has heretofore been published and presented in a manner best described as scattered and inchoate. ''The Work of Atget: Old France'' represents the first attempt to bring some sense of order to Atget's career, which spanned more than 30 years. It is the first of four Atget volumes scheduled to be published annually by the Museum of Modern Art, which since 1968 has owned the Atget material salvaged by Miss Abbott. After 13 years of study, the museum's department of photography, directed by John Szarkowski, has unlocked some of the mystery that has surrounded Atget's achievement. Relying on the research of Maria Morris Hambourg and other scholars before her, the museum can now date Atget's negatives with reasonable certainty.

New York Times • Arts; Books • page 11 • 3,937 words