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Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Piercing Time

Paris after Marville and Atget 1865-2012

With Essays by Min Kyung Lee and Shalini Le Gall

Distributed for Intellect Ltd

Piercing Time

Paris after Marville and Atget 1865-2012

With Essays by Min Kyung Lee and Shalini Le Gall
Piercing Time examines the role of photography in documenting urban change by juxtaposing contemporary “rephotographs” taken by the author with images of nineteenth century Paris taken by Charles Marville, who worked under Georges Haussmann, and corresponding photographs by Eugène Atget taken in the early twentieth century. Revisiting the sites of Marville’s photographs with a black cloth, tripod, and view camera, Peter Sramek creates here a visually stunning book that investigates how urban development, the use of photography as a documentary medium, and the representation of urban space reflect attitudes towards the city. The essays that run alongside these fascinating images discuss subjects such as the aesthetics of ruins and the documentation of the demolitions that preceded Haussmannization, as well as the different approaches taken by Marville and Atget to their work. The book also includes contemporary interviews with local Parisians, extracts from Haussmann’s own writing, and historical maps that allow for an intriguing look at the shifting city plan.
Sure to be of interest to lovers of the city, be they Parisians or visitors, Piercing Time provides a unique snapshot of historical changes of the past 150 years. But it will also be of enduring value to scholars. The accurate cataloguing and high quality reproductions of the images make it a resource for a significant portion of the Marville collection in the Musée Carnavalet, and it will aid further research in urban history and change in Paris over the past century and a half. Photographers will also be drawn to the book for its new thinking in relation to documentary methodologies.

456 pages | 271 color plates, 214 halftones, 28 maps | 9 x 9 | © 2013

Art: Photography

Sociology: Urban and Rural Sociology

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“An unusual and visually compelling book.”

Oxford Art Journal

Table of Contents



A Paris Diagonal

Rephotographic Practices

                Marville Rephotographs Paris: 1865 and 1877

                Atget and Rephotography


Performing the City

Cultural Heritage and Modernity

Avenue de l’Opéra

Le Percement de l’avenue de l’Opéra

Charles Marville and the Aesthetics of Ruins – Shalini Le Gall

Halles – Auxerre

Constructing Nineteenth-Century Paris through Cartography and Photography – Min Kyung Lee


Saint-Séverin – Place Maubert


La Biévre – Rue Monge

Saint-Marcel - Gobelins

The Marville Archive

Technical Notes



                Photographs by Charles Marville

                Photographs by Eugéne Atget

                Cartography and Illustrations


About the Authors

Photography Credits


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