Gordon BaldwinEugène Atget (1857–1927) spent nearly thirty years photographing details of often-inconspicuous buildings, side streets, cul-de-sacs, and public sculptures in his beloved Paris. Yet before his death, he was practically unknown outside of that city. His genius was first recognized in about 1924 by two young Americans living and working in Paris―Man Ray and his studio assistant, Berenice Abbott―who appreciated the elements of contradiction, ambivalence, and ambiguity in Atget's images of Parisian architecture, streets, and parks.
Presented in this volume are more than fifty of the J Paul Getty Museum's two hundred ninety-five pictures by Atget, with commentary on each image by Gordon Baldwin, former associate curator of photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. In Focus: Eugène Atget also contains a chronological overview of his life and an edited transcript of a colloquium on his career, with participants Baldwin; David Featherstone, independent editor and curator; photographer Robbert Flick, professor of art at the University of Southern California; independent scholar David Harris; Weston Naef, curator emeritus of photographs, J. Paul Getty Museum; Francoise Reynaud, curator of photographs at the Musée Carnavalet, Paris; and Michael S. Roth, president, California College of Arts and Crafts. The volume was published to coincide with an exhibit of Atget's images at the J. Paul Getty Museum in 2000.