A Tale of Two Cities: Eugene Atget’s Paris and Berenice Abbott’s New York

Fall 2012

Schmucker Art Gallery

Eugene Atget, Magasin, Avenue des Gobelins,Paris, gelatin silver print, 1925

Main Gallery
August 29 - October 29, 2012
Reception: September 11, 6-7 p.m.
Symposium: September 11, 4-6 p.m. Paul Recital Hall


Schmucker Art Gallery presents an exhibition of photographs by art-historically renowned photographers Eugene Atget and Berenice Abbott. French photographer Eugene Atget captured pre-World War I Paris before many of the city’s architectural splendors were lost to modernization and war. American-born photographer Berenice Abbott used her lens to preserve the physical changes of New York during the early 1930's. This exhibition examines the work of two artists who were inextricably linked to each other and to the development of modern photography. Atget was dismayed by the amount of architectural history being destroyed during the modernization of Paris and began photographing the city’s shop fronts, streets, and neighborhoods in 1898. In 1925, Abbott met Atget when she was working as a darkroom assistant to artist Man Ray. Abbott was deeply and permanently affected by Atget’s images; she wrote, “There was a sudden flash of recognition—the shock of realism unadorned.” Abbott spent eight years in Paris, and on a visit to New York in 1929 was consumed by the desire to capture the physical change of the city. In 1936, the Federal Arts Project approved her proposal for funding to complete her project entitled “Changing New York.” Her efforts produced a catalog of images that, like Atget’s earlier photographs of Paris, records the essential character of the city.

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