Culture

Eyes on Paris: The photogenic capital

No doubt, Paris is the most photogenic city in the world. The most photogenic and probably the most photographed, too. “Eyes on Paris” is an amazing book gathering short reviews of photo books published from 1890 until today.

Mind-travelling to Paris

It was the American writer Henry Miller who called his friend André Brassaï, the famous photographer, the “eye of Paris”. A nickname, that has inspired the curators of Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany, to put together an exhibition that shows how artists and photographers saw, experienced and captured Paris with the camera. The book of the same title is the catalogue of this exhibition. And in case you can’t make it to Hamburg, you can mind-travel with this documentation.

From Atget to Ed van der Elsken, from Robert Doisneau to William Klein: Paris attracted and fascinated them all. In “Eyes on Paris” you’ll find an overview of about 400 photographic works by important representatives of 20th-century photography who enter into a dialog with epoch-making books, portfolios or rare portfolio works. Not only does this catalogue bring together all the important 20th century books on Paris. It also tells us about their genesis and reception.

A lesson about perception

After all, no other city in the world has been the subject of as many outstanding publications as has Paris. The artists’ gaze oscillates between documentary interest and subjective perception, a chronicler’s duty and the projection of personal feelings. If you roam through the various approaches, you get an idea of what fascinated artists and photographers at different moments. But, of course, it’s also an extraordinary documentary about how la capitale changed. “Eyes on Paris” is a beautiful lesson in how Paris looked, but even more how it was seen.

You quickly will realize that Paris and photography are very much linked. Paris was not only the cradle of photography with the first photos taken on Place de la République by Louis Daguerre (1883). Paris was also the starting point for important cycles in photography history regardless of whether photographing artists sought to confirm a myth or instead eyed it critically. “Eyes on Paris” is a must: for lovers of photography and people mad about Paris.

Eyes on Paris

Paris im Fotobuch 1890 – 2010

Edited by Hans-Michael Koetzle

400 pages, 49,90 €

Hirmer Verlag, München.