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VINE VOICEon 8 July 2009
I have to confess I hadn't heard of Atget until the BBC4 documentary series on photography a year or so ago but these photos are wonderful. The series on street pedlars taken around the turn of the last century are a fascinating bit of social history but my favourites are the architectural photos of stairwells, doorways, and alleyways. Some of them are extremely beautiful. As with many art books from European publishers the text seems a bit overblown to me - it might be that something has been lost in translation - but the reason for buying this book is the pictures, and like most books I've brought from Taschen the printing of these is exceptional. Allowing for the fact that the originals are over 100 years old and not in pristine condition the reproduction is first rate. At this price there is no reason to think twice - a beautiful book that provides a glimpse of Paris as it was around 1900.
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This is one of two books that examine Atget's Paris. Both are published by Taschen and share a common editor. However they are not identical and this (from the Icons series) is by far the smaller of the two and with the least pages. The other, simply entitled 'Paris' from their 25th Anniversary series, is more than twice the page size and has about 20% more pages.

Atget's Paris was largely that of the Victorian city of the 'Belle Epoque' of the late 1800's much enjoyed by the likes of Degas, Cezanne, Toulouse-Lautrec and which was familiar to Van Gogh amongst others. It was the gay city before the motor vehicle, electric street lighting and the telephone. He continued working within the city until his death in 1927. It is not apparent whether Atget ever participated in the 'gayer' side of Paris life and he apparently did not photograph it. He did however, at different stages of his life, concentrate on its architecture and statuary, its shops and interiors and its street life. When motor racing and aviation later became realities, he photographed those too with the same sense of curiosity and it is from amongst those images that his most iconic derived.

Following the building of the Metro and of sewers in some parts of the city (some did not have them for years after his death in the 20's), many of the streets and buildings he knew would have been destroyed and replaced. In his final years, the city would have been a very different one than that he knew best. Atget was largely unknown to the public until his archive was discovered decades after his death and shortly afterwards numbers of his images were exhibited. Interest in his work grew, thus this small flurry of books and there are many more from other publishers. The images in both Atget books are, in the major part, of the long-lost parts of a city, not only the buildings but the lifestyles of some portions at the lower end of Parisian society which no longer exist. The city and its populace may have changed, and these books record what once existed but is no more.

A small, inexpensive book which is worth buying firstly for its curiosity value, secondly as a record of a city as it once existed and, by no means last, for the excellence of its varied imagery despite the use of some very early camera equipment.
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on 10 January 2012
While I have always enjoyed street photography, it was only recently that I was exposed to some of Eugene Atget's work.
Between the years 1897 and 1927, Atget documented a city where fast moving changes were happening. He not only documented the progress in technology with his photographs of vehicles, but also the flesh of the city where buildings were being demolished or redeveloped. This type of photography, or typology, was seemingly ignored until the famous surrealist artist Man Ray started to buy Atget's work, sparking an interest amongst the avant garde in Paris. It was Atget's ability to capture everyday objects in detail and ou t of context that really inspired surrealist artists.

The publishers have chosen to lay out Atget's work within certain themes. These include photographs of traders and inhabitants of shanty towns to the parks and castles surrounding Paris at the turn of the 20th century.

Each section has it's photographs arranged differently with varying sizes of photographs on each page. Whilst some of the photographs are fairly small, the reproduction of each photograph is excellent with lots of detail.

There is also an excellent introduction to Eugene Atget, a brief look at his life and works, in three languages, French German and English.

This book is part of a series of publications to celebrate the 25th anniversary of it's publisher Taschen.
The book is a good size measuring 29.8 x 24.7 cm and is well bound. It looks even better without the dust jacket too.

However, while the photographs are well reproduced in this book, showing good detail and contrast, the paper these are printed on are flimsy and lightweight. Given the relatively cheap price of this book, I feel that this can be overlooked.

This is a well made book, and despite the cheap paper, is well printed and bound. If you are interested in Atget's work then this is an excellent introduction to his more famous photographs.
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on 15 September 2009
I cannot believe just how good this book is for the price I paid. The images are big and on quality paper, the text, although in three languages, is descriptive. But its the photographs that speak volumes with Atget, just buy this book, and loose yourself in the images.
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on 11 March 2010
I have to admit to having a bit of a love affair with Paris, so wasn`t really expecting to be disappointed with this book. And I wasn`t! The pictures are atmospheric and evocative, covering the period from the 1890`s to the 1920`s, and every subject from architecture to street vendors (and walkers) to puppet shows. A beautiful book, one to browse with a coffee and croissant!
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on 5 September 2011
What a beautiful large hard cover book. A must for photography fans, lovers of Paris, modern history enthusiasts or people watchers, alike. The photos are beautiful, and so is the layout. And the price is unbelievable. I could not stop peeking at this book at every chance.
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on 19 May 2014
Whether you are already in love with Paris or would like to be, or simply want a beautiful, solid book for your coffee table that friends and visitors can enjoy and browse and talk about, this book is for you. Taschen as usual provides great quality prints and binding and the photographs in this book are impressive and beautiful testaments of Paris as it was in the early 1900s. The paper could perhaps be thicker, but at this very friendly price, it is great value and absolutely worth having, to browse before going to Paris, or dreaming of going to Paris in the 1900s.
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on 11 April 2012
This book is really lovely and is definitely worth purchasing at such a good price. Like all the Taschen books I've bought the photos are amazing and really give you a feel for an old-world Paris. It's a great book for your coffee table.
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on 17 December 2012
I was expecting a fairly normal sized handbook of photos, but was surprised by the large folio sized package of full size prints. The quality is remarkable considering the subjects were taken over 100 years ago. Although this is not the complete works of Atget (available elsewhere) it is a considerable selection of his output. A commentary in 3 languages (French, German, and English) by the Editor take up many pages which most will appreciate, includinng the information that these were taken mainly as aide for painters, but Man Ray considered him to be the first surrealist photographer, a role that he repudiated. Considering the price of this book (including free delivery) is no more than that for a paperback novel it is remarkable value.
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on 2 March 2015
It's an amazing book about a wonderful artist. I love Eugène's photos, they remind us of a past era, with little details such as old posters in dark alleys. It's a very nice document of old Paris too.
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