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Eugene Atget worried about the future of his negatives

In a letter to Monsieur Paul Leon, the Director of Fine Arts at Les Monumentes Historiques, Eugene Atget admits concern for the future of his thousands of negatives after his death. This is an excerpt of the letter he wrote Leon about purchasing the work.

Now that I am approaching old age – that is to say, 70 years – and have neither heir nor successor, I am worried and tormented about the future of this beautiful collection of negatives, which could fall into hands unaware of its import and ultimately disappear, without benefiting anyone. I would be very happy, Monsieur, if you could interest yourself in this collection….I hold at your disposal, Monsieur, and with a simple word from you, my references on Old Paris and all the explanations you might wish to have from me.

It’s hard to imagine today, but Eugene Atget was not acclaimed in his lifetime. He sold his photographs to painters to use as references. It was the championing by Berenice Abbott and the Museum of Modern Art that brought Atget the notice he deserved. Unfortunately, success came after his death. He is now considered a master of photo realism.

*information from the book Photography Speaks by Brooks Johnson, published by Aperture/The Chrysler Museum, 1989

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About Gina Genis

Hi Friends, I'm a photographer and artist who lives in Washington DC. I have two blogs. The Gina Genis Blog is about art and photography. My new blog, DC Discoveries is dedicated to showing you everything from fashion to art, food to entertainment in all sections of the District. I hope you will take the journey with me. I exhibit my work in museums and galleries across the U.S. I'm included in the permanent collections of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections Division of the University of Miami, Hard Rock Casino, Orange County Transit District, IBM, and the Sarah and Adam Markman Collection among others. My series "Window Peeping" was included in OsCene 2010 at the Laguna Art Museum, Truman State University, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Biola University, and solo shows at Gallery 825 and Cypress College. The "June Gloom" series was exhibited in a solo show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The "Kala" series has been exhibited at MPLS Photo Center, Cypress College, and Gallery 825. "Economy Portraits" was created as an Artist In Residence project at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and was awarded "Best Art Show of 2011" by the OC Weekly. I curated Wide Angle View, an exhibit of 16 international, award-winning photo and multi-media journalists at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to much critical acclaim. Recent reviews of my work have appeared in the Huffington Post, Art Scene, OC Weekly, Orange County Register, New University, Riviera Magazine, Coast Magazine, Huntington Beach Independent, and appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC, and more. I lead the Gina Genis Photo Workshops where I show beginning and intermediate photographers how to jump to the next level with their work. I also teach online photography courses through The Compelling Image.

One response »

  1. the work of Atget is spectacular

    Reply

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