"You take a canvas, divide it up like a checkerboard... and go from there." - Man Ray

John Szarkowski on Eugène Atget: Speaking of Art Lecture
John Szarkowski on Eugène Atget: Speaking of Art Lecture
About the film
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  • Duration 35 minutes
  • Producers Edgar Howard, Thomas Piper

“Szarkowksi’s thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography.” – US News & World Report,1990

During his nearly three-decade tenure as Director of the Department of Photography (1962-1991) at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, John Szarkowski recast the world’s thinking about the art of photography.

His radically new conception of the medium’s possibilities — and its limitations — influenced a great range of critics, historians, theorists, and photographers. With his legacy as groundbreaking curator, steward of an unparalleled collection at MoMA, and keenly nuanced critic, he stands as one of the giants of 20th Century art history.

In this lecture, Szarkowski clearly relishes the chance to praise the photographer he confesses is first among equals, Eugène Atget.

In his writings and exhibitions, Szarkowski likely has done more than anyone to transform this once-obscure Frenchman into a towering figure for 20th Century art.

“I think that Atget is the single most inexhaustibly interesting of all photographers so far,” says Szarkowski. “More interesting than Stieglitz or Weston or Cartier-Bresson; even more interesting than Walker Evans, who was his greatest student.”

John Szarkowski on John Szarkowski: Speaking of Art Lecture
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