Abigail Klein Leichman
March 27, 2012, Updated September 11, 2012

For the first time in Israel, images by pioneering documentary photographer Eugène Atget are going on display.

“Eugène Atget: As Paris Was,” an exhibition at Ticho House, the Israel Museum’s historic venue in downtown Jerusalem, is featuring 70 of Atget’s works from the mid-1890s until 1927. The museum received 200 of his photographs as a gift from Pamela and George Rohr of New York and an anonymous donor.

Atget is recognized internationally for his integral role in the canon of documentary photography. After working as a sailor, actor and painter for almost 30 years, he embarked on a self-assigned mission to document French life, culture and history in and around Paris. He chose houses, streets, parks and castles as his subjects, capturing interior and exterior details of architecture being transformed by modernity.

“Atget’s photographs of Paris, including those featured in ‘Eugène Atget: As Paris Was,’ do not depict the city as a bustling modern metropolis,” said exhibition curator Nissan Perez. “He trained his lens on the older, often decaying buildings and parks. The scenes he captured, mostly devoid of human presence, express desolation and solitude, reminiscent of an empty stage awaiting the actors’ entrance.”

In 2009, the Israel Museum launched the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography, a $40,000 prize awarded by an international jury once every two years. Nominations for the 2012 prize are being accepted until September 1, 2012. The photography department also awards the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer and the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement.


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