Friday, June 13, 1986 The Michigan Daily
Modern Times exhibits
world of Atget at D.I.A.
By Elizabeth Block
the final exhibition of
French photographer Eugene Atget
(1857-1927) is on display at the Detroit
Institute of Arts through Sunday, June k
Eugene Atget's Magasin, avenue des Gebelins, (1925).
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Atget began his career as an actor,
yet by 1901 he specialized in Parisian
photography. Though most of his in-
come came from local artists, by 1920
he sold 2600 glass plate negatives to
Service Photographique des
The pictures taken between 1898
and 1927 are divided into three
periods. Through them, one sees
Atget's evolution from documentary
to surrealist photographer.
The first period between 1898 and
1901 are candid shots of the working
class, while the second period is more Eugene Atget's Rue des Saules, A
complex. Between 1910 and 1913
Atget assembled 4 albums, each with According to John Szarkowski. the
a unique theme. curator of Modern Times, "The
pictures shown here consider aspects
In 1910 he captured Vehicles, while of ordinary vernacular life that
in 1912 he shot Trades. By 1913 he during the nineteenth century had
printed pictures of Shops and the gradually become a central concern
rebellious Zoners (Peupliers). These of the literary and visual arts." Yet
gypsies and ragpickers moved south Atget depicts Paris life with a definite
of the city walls where they existed contrast between the classes, a common
free from the dictates of Parisian nineteenth century European con-
society. Atget's odd fascination with sideration . In his work, Atget cap-
the zone is obvious in these pictures tures bourgeois attitudes in the In-
where he took short exposure photos, teriors and Window Displays while
perhaps illustrating his uncertain Trades and Zoniers depict peasant
feeling towards the Peupliers. life. Although Atget never imposes a
political standpoint on the viewer, it is
In the third period, Atget interesting to note that he donated
culminates his movement of trade radical newspapers to the archives of
and street life into the modernization Paris.
of early twentieth century. Now, he
photographs. Parisian interiors, win- If one acknowledges Atget's work in
dow displays of mannequins and such a way, the political undertones
carrousels, moving his work towards may be traced to many eighteenth
surrealism. and nineteenth century post-
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Auberge du Lapin Agile, (1926).
revolutionary French authors such a:
Flaubert and Stendhal. At that time ii
the arts, political extremisn
flourished through different media
Flaubert and Stendhal, in particular
exposed the obvious class struggles
whereas Atget delicately capturec
A provacative parallel between St.
endhal and Atget is that both define(
the class struggle through architec
ture. In Stendhal's Red and Black, hi
used buildings to separate the classe
as does Atget. Atget depicts wealth
for example, in Interiors whilt
working class and peasantry is
illustrated with exteriors of building:
Although Atget considered commor:
modern European social concerns, his
sensitivity extends beyond the or
dinary Paris photography. He demon
strates a nostalgic examination of
modernization's molestation of
primitivism, yet his eye gave us an ab
solute sense of pre-nineteenth centur3
history even within his present da3