If you’re someone for whom an afternoon spent with Robert Doisneau’s slick shots of Paris is about as appealing as being drowned in a vat of honey, you’ll be thrilled to spend time in a dishevelled version of the city, as captured by Eugene Atget. The famous photographer – originally from the rural Gironde – roamed the streets of the capital between 1898 and 1924, taking shots that are as simultaneously soulful and damaged as a battered old accordion. In a thousand dens of the cancan and the Charleston, in a Belle Epoque rich in petticoats and pomaded hair, in streets full of peddlers and lined with gutted storefronts, Atget’s Paris is an invaluable record of an era – and his work has a particular fascination for the Surrealists (43 of the exhibition’s photos come from Man Ray’s private collection). From the capital’s most moneyed streets to its bustling suburbs, each wall, each person and every cobblestone is celebrated as a part of a perfectly imperfect city.
'Marchand ambulant place Saint-Médard, 5e arrondissement', septembre 1899 / © Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet
'Marchand d'abats-jour, rue Lepic', 1899 / © Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet
'Heurtoir à tête de lion, hôtel de la Monnaie, quai Conti', septembre 1900 / © Eugène Atget / Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet
'L'Eclipse', avril 1912 / © Eugène Atget / Album de Man Ray / George Eastman House
'Rue Asseline', 1924-1925 / © Eugène Atget / Album de Man Ray / George Eastman House
'Angle des rues de Seine et de l'Echaudé, 6e arrondissement', mai 1924 / © Eugène Atget / Musée Carnavalet / Roger-Viollet