Rephotographing Atget
February 24, 2006 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Rephotographing Atget: Eugene Atget photographed Paris from 1888 until his death in 1927. Christopher Rauschenberg retraced Atget's steps in 1997 and 1998, photographing the same scenes, and documents his project in a gallery at Lens Culture. The gallery includes an audio discussion of the project. [more inside]
posted by monju_bosatsu (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Rauschenberg's project is the latest in a long list of "then and now" photo galleries, many of which are listed in this earlier thread. Lens Culture is definitely worth exploring, as well, and was first mentioned here in dhruva's post on the Buddha Project.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:02 PM on February 24, 2006

Wonderful. There can never be too many beautiful pictures of Paris. Thanks very much.
posted by nixerman at 1:17 PM on February 24, 2006

Amazingly I was just this minute looking at Gerald Panter's version of this and of course the Atget rephotography project
Can't get enough Atget - thanks for posting
posted by Lanark at 1:20 PM on February 24, 2006

Great photos, obnoxious navigation.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 1:43 PM on February 24, 2006

The index page for Panter - and also Tom Gore rephotographs Atget

It's interesting to compare all these - some of the streets show more changes in 2 years than the previous 70
posted by Lanark at 1:46 PM on February 24, 2006

Bravo! Since much of what is interesting about Atget is his recording of Paris-in-transition -- still reeling from the effects of Haussmann's redevelopment plans -- it is extraordinarily revealing to see a "next chapter" through Rauschenberg's project. Excellent, excellent post -- many thanks.
posted by Parlour Tricks at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2006

So many freaking lines painted on the streets these days. ugh. This is very cool from an urban planning perspective!
posted by shoepal at 2:01 PM on February 24, 2006

Very nice, thank you. Someone also did this with Bernice Abbots photos of NYC not so long ago, I think.
posted by OmieWise at 2:37 PM on February 24, 2006

Madison, Wis., ain't Paris but a local photographer did the same thing here and created a great book of photos from it. It's amazing how quickly a city in North America can change compared to a place like Paris, which seems to put a premium on preservation of its cityscapes. Some of the changes are good, some not so not so good. Okay, most aren't so good.
posted by schmedeman at 2:38 PM on February 24, 2006

I love Atget and I love then-and-now urban photography; this post makes me very happy (especially since Rauschenberg took the trouble to reproduce the shooting angle accurately, which people often don't bother to do). It's astonishing how much has remained unchanged; in one of the photographs ("Luxembourg") it's completely impossible to tell which is contemporary and which 80 years old. Thanks for this, monju.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on February 24, 2006

Ça me donne plaisir. Beaucoup. Merci.
posted by ParisParamus at 2:48 PM on February 24, 2006

Those are great, thank you. I love the sense of atmosphere in both the old and the new. This one in particular seems quite surreal.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 2:49 PM on February 24, 2006

Ah, did someone say something about poor interface design? I meant this one.
posted by Squid Voltaire at 3:22 PM on February 24, 2006

What a brilliant exercise. I love those then and now books you can find about cities, too.
posted by davekmv at 3:27 PM on February 24, 2006

I have to say, I can't imagine what Atget was thinking when he took the original shots. Not much in the way of composition... unless his goal was just to document the mundane.
posted by crunchland at 3:50 PM on February 24, 2006

I love Atget, and I love projects like this. Had seen that earlier Atget rephotography project but the link above is really unsurpassed in the field of "rephotography." These things are always slightly off, whether it's the lens or the positioning. Rauschenbergs photographs are mostly spot on.

I have retraced footsteps like this, and rephotographed several spots in Paris and's magical.

Great post, thanks.
posted by fire&wings at 4:16 PM on February 24, 2006

Terrific post, thanks. As a resident of the USA, I'm always fascinated by pictures of places that are more or less unchanged from 100 years ago or more; 'roud these parts, except on the east coast, you'd be hard-pressed to find such similarities between then and now.
posted by davejay at 4:31 PM on February 24, 2006

Très gentile, Monju!

In 1838, we look out of Louis Daguerre's Paris window over the Boulevard du Temple. Such a slow exposure was needed that no one moving on the busy street is seen, except for one man standing still for a shoe shine on the corner. In another image taken the same day, he's gone.

Buildings, trees, and now, cars may pause for the eye, but how many vanished people have walked those streets, entered those doorways, and looked out of those windows?
I have seized hold of fleeting light and taken it prisoner... — Louis Daguerre (1789-1851)
posted by cenoxo at 6:55 PM on February 24, 2006

..I can't imagine what Atget was thinking when he took the original shots.

Atget is often misunderstood, as interesting as it is to compare how the places have changed over time, the real magic of Atgets work, is the painterly way he captures light and form. The subject matter is almost irrelevant.

I didnt 'get' Atget either until I stumbled across a great book by John Szarkowski (now sadly out of print) which explains it really well.

It's possible to photograph the same scene again, but when the trees, the light, even the buildings have changed - you are never going to get the same overall effect.

Christopher Rauschenberg should be given credit for going beyond simply copying Atget's pictures and discovering corners of Paris for himself - I think those are his best work.
posted by Lanark at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2006

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