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Paris to New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott

October 4, 2018January 20, 2019
Curated by Kevin Moore, FotoFocus Artistic Director and Curator

Paris to New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott explores the encounter between American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898–1991) and French photographer Eugène Atget (1857–1927) during the 1920s—an encounter that would have profound and lasting effects on the careers and legacies of both artists. Berenice Abbott and Eugène Atget met in Man Ray’s Paris studio in the early 1920s. Atget, then in his sixties, was obsessively recording the streets, gardens, and courtyards of the 19th-century city—“Old Paris”—as it was undergoing modernization. Abbott acquired much of Atget’s work after his death and was a tireless advocate for its value. In 1929, she relocated to New York and emulated Atget in her systematic documentation of that city, culminating in her epic photographic series Changing New York.

Abbott paid further tribute to Atget by publishing and exhibiting his work in the United States, and by printing hundreds of images from his negatives, using the gelatin silver process. Through Abbott’s efforts, Atget became known to an audience of photographers and writers who found diverse inspiration in his photographs. Abbott herself is remembered as one of the most independent, determined, and respected photographers of the 20th-century, and is celebrated in particular for her photographs of 1930s New York.

This exhibition and publication bring together for the first time selections from two enormous bodies of work—Atget’s Old Paris and Abbott’s Changing New York—and explore the legacy and artistic influence between two great photographers and their obsession with documenting the transformations of two of the world’s great modern cities.

Old Paris and Changing New York: Photographs by Eugène Atget and Berenice Abbott (Yale University Press) is published on the occasion of the FotoFocus Biennial 2018 and the exhibition at the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati.

  • Eugène Atget (French, 1857–1927), Boulevard de Strasbourg, Corsets, 1912. Gelatin silver chloride print. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1953, 1953–64–40

  • Eugène Atget (French, 1857–1927), Rue Asselin, 1921. Gelatin silver chloride print. Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1953, 1953–64–29


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