Photo study: L’enfer

Eugène Atget Cabaret de L’Enfer, boulevard de Clichy, Paris 1910

This is a shot depicting the former French cabaret, L’enfer, on Boulevard Clichy in Paris, shot by Eugène Atget. Atget is known for shooting these Parisian street scenes at deserted hours of the night.

Robert Doisneau L’Enfer bôite de nuit, Place Pigalle, Paris 1952

Here is a shot by Robert Doisneau at the same location in 1952. The change in perspective and composition just rips the face out of the wall- this is definitely a more narrative-driven approach versus Atget’s documentation style. Check this from the Michael Hoppen Gallery on Doisneau:

Doisneau became increasingly interested with the possibilities of photography as more than a narrative tool, but also bending the visual impact of the photograph by using techniques unaided by computer simply by using his small darkroom to manipulate the images, such as multiple exposures onto the paper.

Obviously both photographers harbor a lot of love and interest in exposing their city, but the evolution of photography over 50 years is evident from an era where photos were sold as source material for painters to some-much deserved artistic recognition.

This is the same location, 53 Boulevard de Clichy, shot by Google in 2009.


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