Friday, January 20, 2006

David and Genevieve in Paris. 3. Atget and Sadness

The reality of Paris collides in Genevieve’s heart with the sepia-tinted dream. Is she living or is she dreaming?

The question makes her think of hardship. Atget’s photographs, those sepia-tinted wonders, are etched in her mind, as is his story. Born in 1857, he did not see his photographs appear in print until 1926, when his neighbor Man Ray published a handful in La Revolution Surrealist—without giving Atget credit. To wait 69 years!—and then not to get credit!

Genenvieve knows too many stories like this one, stories of the hard artist’s road. Everywhere in Paris she sees Atget’s subjects, the peddlers, garbage collectors, the road workers who toil away at their jobs just as she toils away at hers. She feels kinship and sadness. Not that she needs life to be easy. But must it be as hard as the history of art foretells that it will be?

Still, what are her alternatives? After all, she is an artist.

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