Eugène Atget (French, 1857-1927) is doubtless one of the most important photographers beyond his time, as he ushered classical photography into modernity with his artistic ambition. Unmistakably picturesque views of Paris form the core of his oeuvre. Series like Le vieux Paris and Paris pittoresques, in which Atget depicted street scenes and quarters of Paris with his 18 x 24 cm camera, have become famous historical documentations.
Because of the great diversity of his motifs and his self-contained iconography, Atget's work goes beyond classical photographic documentation, so that he is regarded as the founder of conceptual photography. Atget strongly influenced the art scene at the latest as of the 1920s, becoming an important model and source of inspiration for many photographers not only in his time, but also for later generations of artists. Apart from Lee Friedlander, a whole series of photographers like Stephen Shore, Garry Winogrand, Henry Wessel and Bernd and Hilla Becher have repeatedly alluded to Atget in their work.
In the last years of his life, Atget met the young photographer Berenice Abbott, who acquired Atget’s collection from his estate after his death 1927. Later Abbott and the American art dealer Julien Levy sold the collection to The Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is also thanks to Abbott that Eugène Atget posthumously received the acknowledgement he did not get in his lifetime.