For almost three decades, Eugène Atget, an actor turned documentary photographer, organized views of Paris into an elaborately ordered archive that mapped the city in its details and registered a broad complaint against its transformation from a world of artisans and individuals into a capital of spectacle. Usually early in the morning, Atget hauled a large view camera, a wood tripod, and heavy glass plates around the city to do his work. In Fête du trône, the photographer captured a curious window display featuring articles associated with a giant and a midget, a sort of ready-made Surrealism. In 1925, the year this photograph was taken, Atget was discovered by the expatriate American artist and photographer Man Ray, who was part of the Surrealist circle of poets and artists in Paris. With Man Ray’s support, Atget’s work began to be published and recognized as more than just a visual history of Paris. Upon Atget’s death, Man Ray’s assistant, the photographer Berenice Abbott, acquired the more than eight thousand prints found in his studio and devoted decades to promoting his vast and remarkable oeuvre. The funds for Abbott’s purchase were supplied by Julien Levy, a prominent dealer of photography and Surrealism, the core of whose photographic collection is held at the Art Institute.
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
Printed recto, lower left, in black, backwards: "68"; verso unchecked
Image/paper: 18 × 22.6 cm (7 1/8 × 8 15/16 in.)
Julien Levy Collection, Special Photography Acquisition Fund
Extended information about this artwork
Travis, David. 1976. “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget.” Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago. p. 23, cat. 7.
Greenough, Sarah, Joel Snyder, David Travis and Colin Westerbeck. 1989. “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography.” Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art/The Art Institute of Chicago. p. 293, cat. 233.
Travis, David. 2005. “Paris: Photographs from a Time that Was.” Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press. p. 53.
Sharp, Robert V., Elizabeth Stepina and Susan E. Weidemeyer. 2009. “The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide.” Art Institute of Chicago. p. 275.
Druick, Douglas and Robert V. Sharp. 2013. “The Art Institute of Chicago: The Essential Guide.” Art Institute of Chicago. p. 289.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Photographs from the Julien Levy Collection: Starting with Atget,” December 11, 1976–February 20, 1977; traveled to the International Center of Photography, New York, April 21-May 29, 1977; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, November 4-December 18 1977; Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 13-Ferbruary 26, 1978; Lakeview Center for the Arts and Sciences, Peoria, Illinois, March 16-April 30, 1978; and Cincinnati Art Museum, November 17-December 24, 1978. (David Travis)
Chicago, Illinois, Art Institute of Chicago, “A History of Photography from Chicago Collection,” April 24–June 6, 1982.
Berlin, Germany, Berlinsche Galerie, “Station Der Moderne,” September 25, 1988–January 6, 1989.
Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, “On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography,” May 7–July 30, 1989; traveled to The Art Institute of Chicago, September 16–November 26, 1989; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 21, 1989–February 25, 1990.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Bystander: A History of Street Photography,” December 10, 1994-April 16, 1995; traveled to the San Jose Museum of Art, January 16-April 4, 1999 (Chicago only). (Colin Westerbeck)
New York, New York, The Equitable Gallery, “Julien Levy: Portrait of an Art Gallery,” August 13–October 31, 1998.
Art Institute of Chicago, “Paris: Photographs from a Time that Was,” August 13–November 6, 2005. (David Travis).
Art Institute of Chicago, Gallery 10 Permanent Collection Rotation, August 2011–April 2012.
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