Monday, 19 January 2009
Yesterday I watched a really interesting documentary on Eugene Atget and Berenice Abbott, their work and relationship.
There were several inter-locking stories being told. Firstly there was the work of Atget in Paris. His formal documentary style and the (even then) anachronistic technique he employed. This set in the context of the huge change Paris was undergoing at the time. It was observed that he often had few people in his photographs but it could be argued that is as much a function of technique (long exposures on glass plate), time of day and locations. I was also left wondering whether he was trying to avoid the new development to avoid the crowds, or with the intent of creating a nostalgic record of the Paris being destroyed.
The there was Abbott as rescuer of the Atget archive and documenter of New York. While she held a similar style to Atget, it is clear that her subject was much more the life of the city (NYC) as created through its rapid development.
The title of this post comes from a quote by Abbott who felt that she was as well known for the Atget archive, perilously transported to New York from Paris, as she was for her own photography. The story of how Atget came to be well known, posthumously, through Abbott's efforts were a strong part of the piece.
There was also a nic aside from Hank O'Neal on how he came to take this photograph of Jackie Onassis.
All in all an enjoyable aside for a Sunday afternoon, especially for a photographic ignorant like myself.