Monday, 25 February 2013

Road Trip - Eugene Atget

A few months ago we did a rather ambitious day trip to Sydney to see the Eugene Atget exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Sydney isn't an easy day trip for us (8 hours in the car is a bit off putting), but I was very keen to see this exhibition, and this was our only chance before it closed.




Eugene Atget (1857-1927) was a French photographer who set out to document the 'Old Paris', which was disappearing after the demolitions and modernisation of Baron Haussmann. This exhibition was mainly photographs on loan from Musee Carnavalet in Paris (another Musee definitely on the hit list for this year), along with some of Man Ray's collection of Atget photographs, and a few from other galleries. Man Ray lived on the same Parisian street as Eugene and was responsible for introducing his work to the Parisian avant-garde "who were inspired by the mysterious and poetic visions of the city."

I hadn't heard of Eugene before seeing the publicity for this exhibition, possibly because this was the first major exhibition of his work in Australia. Then when I read The Flaneur last year, there was Eugene too. 

Eugene Atget, an obsessed photographer who was determined to document every corner of Paris before it disappeared under the assulat of modern 'improvements'. He had been born in 1857 near Bordeaux and as a young man had worked variously as a sailor, actor and painter. Penniless but driven, Atget carried his tripod, view camera and glass plates everywhere with him, shooting all the monuments but also the fading advertisements painted on a wall, the dolls in a shop window, the rain-slick cobbled street, the door knocker, the quay, the stairwell, even the grain of the wood steps. He photographed the grand salon of the Austrian embassy but also street vendors hawking baskets and the humble horse-drawn fiacre waiting for a customer. He wore his voluminous cape everywhere, carrying his heavy equipment in hands that had been badly scarred by developing solutions. 





Big cities always have interesting things going on, as well as exhibitions.

This dog appeared to have a camera strapped to it's head!

I was excited to see a tagged cockatoo
(turns out that he is Mr Squiggle)
bird research teaming up with social media-
folks on facebook love them


No trip to Sydney is complete without
at least a glimpse of the Harbour


11 comments:

Brona Joy said...

What did you think of the exhibition? Was it worth the trek?

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Yes, love the photos of Sydney, but curious about the exhibition.

vicki (skiourophile) said...

The timing just wasn't right for me to pop over to Sydney and see it, sadly. I hope it was worth that long, long drive!

Kath Lockett said...

Lovely pics. This may sound weird, but I always (idly) wondered about putting a camera on my dog's head, just to get an idea of how she sees the world....

Louise said...

I found the exhibition itself a bit overwhelming actually, and by the end found it a bit difficult to appreciate any of the photos individually. Each photo was nice, but they were all very same-y in style and appearance that several rooms of them was a bit too much.

Vicki- it's terrible when these great exhibitions are on at hard to get at places. Brisbane is having a lot of them lately. I see Adelaide is having the Turner, but thankfully it's coming to Canberra a bit later in the year, hopefully that will be doable.

Kath- I don't think that I need to see that many smelly things and other dog bottoms....Let me know if you do it though. It was rather an elaborate set up.

Esme said...

Did you enjoy the exhibit? I have never heard of him.

Paulita said...

What a fun journey you had. Thanks for playing along. Did you like The Flaneur? I can't seem to get into it. Maybe I don't love France enough. No, that can't be it.

Louise said...

Esme I did enjoy the exhibition, but all the photographs were very samey- all that sepia, and I found it a bit overwhelming by the end.

Paulita I loved The Flaneur, sorry you're not liking it so much. I can see how not everyone would love it.

Swan Pond said...

Nice blue sky in the agnsw pic. When are you off to France?

Parisbreakfasts said...

I've been a long time fan of Atget (who influenced Hopper it turns out) though I've only seen him in books...rarely in person.
His landscape garden pics are divine and poetic...

Louise said...

Megan- I'm heading to Paris for June/July. Very excited.

Carol- I didn't know that Atget was an influence for Hopper. I agree about the garden pics a lot of them seem rather ethereal now compared to our digital sharpness.