“DENSE WITH EXPERIENCE, MYSTERIOUS AND TRUE”: ATGET’S ARBES, WITH 39 PREVIOUSLY UNPUBLISHED PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGES
(ATGET, Eugène) AUBENAS, Sylvie and LE GALL, Guillaume. Arbres inédits d’Atget [The Unpublished Trees of Atget]. [Paris]: Marval, (2003). Folio, original half black cloth, stiff gray wrappers, original clamshell portfolio. $450.
First edition, “hors commerce” issue, of this exquisite folio volume of 39 exhibition-size sepia plates of previously unknown and unpublished photographs by Atget, taken in Hauts-de-Seine (Saint-Cloud) from 1909-11 but undiscovered until 1995, each superb image tipped to heavy card stock, this copy one of an unspecified limitation excluded from sale and intended for the employees of the publisher, printed coincident with a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
Eugène Atget was “a photographer of such authority and originality that his work remains a bench mark against which much of the most sophisticated photographer measures itself… [His images] are seductively and deceptively simple, wholly poised, reticent, dense with experience, mysterious, and true” (Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs, 64). Arbes inédits d’Atget, published more than 75 years after his death, offers the first publication of 39 images of trees taken by Atget from 1909-11 in the park at Saint-Cloud (Hauts-de-Seine). “Found by chance, in an envelope which had never been opened,” these were among 111 photographs left untouched since their purchase in July 1923 by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris. Other images in the envelope, of statues and terraces, were published separately, but these pictures of trees, taken by Atget with “his old-fashioned view camera with glass plates” (Roth, 11) were considered too abstract, too geographically imprecise. “The prints were all perfect,” recalls curator Aubenas, “with good contrast and in this brown-red tone that is magnificent. They were written on in pencil in Atget’s writing” (Libération). “Hors commerce” issue, one of an unspecified limitation withheld from sale, marked “HC” and intended only for those associated with the book’s publication; printed simultaneous with a numbered limited edition of 1000 copies. Text in French with essays by Guillaume le Gall and Sylvie Aubenas. See Parr & Badger I:127; Open Book, 90.
A fine copy.