Eugène Atget and Documentary Photography of the City

Vladimir Rizov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This paper focuses on the documentary photography of Eugène Atget in late 19th and early 20th-century Paris. I will begin by exploring Atget’s position as a pioneering documentary photographer in the field, followed by an engagement with the urban environment of Paris, in which Atget worked almost exclusively. Finally, I will analyse a single photograph in depth while discussing it in relation to the work of Charles Baudelaire and Jacques Rancière. This text is a contribution to a literature of critical engagement with documentary photography, urban history and the politics of class visibility. I will do so by arguing for the political significance of reading Atget’s images in a critical, political manner that engages with Rancière’s concept of the ‘anonymous multiple’. Atget is considered a key documentary photographer, and, as such, he is exemplary of the history of documentary photography and its treatment of its subjects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-163
Number of pages23
JournalTheory, Culture & Society
Issue number3
Early online date10 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Charles Baudelaire
  • Eugène Atget
  • Jacques Rancière
  • documentary photography
  • social theory
  • urban space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)


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