The photographic city: Modernity and the origin of urban photography

Vladimir Rizov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The concern of this text is the relationship between the city and photography. In order to examine the interrelation between the two, a significant case has been identified with Paris in mid-Haussmannisation in the period of mid to late 19th century. However, the particular focus utilised here is that of the structural logic of space and visibility in relation to photography. Photographs by the photographer commissioned to document the changes of Haussmannisation, Charles Marville, are used to illustrate the interrelations between street, façade, map and photograph. Key to this discussion is the context of modernity and its inheritance from the Enlightenment. Ultimately, this article puts forward a notion of the photographic city as the idea that modern Western cities are constructed on principles of transparency, order and legibility, which not only facilitated modern photography, but also allowed it to reproduce the city as exemplary of those same principles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-791
Number of pages18
JournalCity: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Haussmann
  • Paris
  • cartography
  • critical visual theory
  • modernity
  • photographic city
  • photography
  • urban planning
  • urban space

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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