Christopher Rauschenberg

Rephotographing Atget.

Eugene Atget documented Paris from 1888 until his death in 1927. Like many people, I consider him to have been the greatest photographer of all time. Atget straightforwardly documented the city with photographs that give you the feeling that all the transitory things that people do and are have washed away, leaving only their transcendent accomplishments.  On a 1989 trip to Paris, I suddenly found myself face to face with a spiral-topped gatepost that I knew very well from a beautiful photograph by Atget.  I rephotographed his gatepost from memory and wondered how many other Atget subjects might still be holding their poses. There, among the things and places that Atget had admired, I resolved to return and do a rephotographic exploration to discover if the haunting and beautiful Paris of Atget’s vision still existed. Eight years later, in 1997 and 1998, I made three trips to Paris and rephotographed 500 of the scenes that Atget photographed. 88 of these image pairs are in the book, "Paris Changing," published by Princeton Architectural Press.