The Museum has added 209 photographs by Eugène Atget, who occupies a central position in the history of photography as a strikingly original figure. Atget’s career bridged the 19th and 20th centuries and his influence on the medium continues to this day. The group is a partial gift from Southern California collectors Dan and Mary Solomon, longtime supporters of the Getty Museum.
In his obsessive visual documentation of Paris and its environs, Atget invented new approaches to street photography and unlocked the genre’s potential for surreal poetry.
This acquisition represents all of Atget’s major series (Landscape-Documents, Picturesque Paris, Art in Old Paris, Topography of Old Paris, Saint-Cloud, Versailles, Sceaux, Tuileries, and Environs), as well as his varied subjects ranging from petits métiers (street merchants) to medieval alleys, modern shop fronts, stairways, architectural details and accessories, utilitarian vehicles, parks and trees, statuary, window reflections, interiors, sex workers, and encampments on the outskirts of Paris.
The acquisition includes early prints of several iconic subjects as well as two rare albums of Parisian views assembled during Atget’s lifetime. Among the past owners of Atget photographs in the Solomon collection are several important artists and writers including Tristan Tzara, André Derain, Ilse Bing, and Richard Avedon.
“Assembled methodically over the past 25 years, Mary and Dan Solomon’s Atget collection is the finest in private hands, and dramatically transforms Getty’s Atget holdings,” said Jim Ganz, senior curator of photographs. “Its acquisition gives the Museum the most important institutional collection of Atget in the United States after the Museum of Modern Art in New York.”
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