Eugène Atget was one of the most famous photographers in the history of photography. Atget sought to capture Paris and its environs at the end of the 19th century when industrialization and the concomitant change of society threatened to destroy the Paris that he knew. His photos capture many of the old parts of Paris which have since been altered beyond recognition or destroyed, including buildings but also professions and ways of life. Much of Atget's fame is due to Berenice Abbott, an American photographer, who purchased a number of his negatives, published the first Atget monograph, and later printed several of his most famous images for collectors. Atget was also taken up by the surrealists, who idolized some of his more interesting photographs. Working along the same lines, Zikmund Reach in Prague similarly sought to document that city before its destruction by modernization; you can see his photographs here.
The collector is the true resident of the interior. The collector dreams his way not only into a distant or bygone world but also into a better one.
- Walter Benjamin