Paris: Portrait of a City
The vivid history of the capital of love and photography
A city built on two millennia of history, Paris is entering the third century of its love story with photography. It was on the banks of the Seine that Niepce and Daguerre officially gave birth to this new art that has flourished ever since, developing a distinctive language and becoming a vital tool of knowledge.
Paris, Portrait of a City leads us through what Goethe described as “universal city where every step upon a bridge or a square recalls a great past, where a fragment of history is unrolled at the corner of every street.” This history is recounted in photographs, all the way from Daguerre’s incunabula to the most recent images. In fact, Paris can claim to be the only city in the world whose archives house an almost complete record of over a century and a half of transformations. This huge panorama of nearly 600 pages and as many photographs makes Paris, Portrait of a City unique. This book brings together the past and the present, the monumental and the everyday, objects and people. Thanks to images captured by the most illustrious photographers – Daguerre, Marville, Atget, Lartigue, Brassaï, Kertész, Ronis, Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson and many more – but also by many unknown amateurs, these pages show the essential workings of a human drama acted out on the stage of history. These visions attempt to bottle just a little of that “Parisian air”, something of that particular poetry given out by the stones and inhabitants of a constantly changing city that has inspired untold numbers of writers and artists over the ages.
Presenting an exciting patchwork of images from past and present, Paris, Portrait of a City is a huge and unique photographic study that, in a way, is the true family album of all Parisians. It is to them, and to all lovers of this capital city, that this vibrant, loving and tender testimony is dedicated.