Washington, DC

Washington, DC

“Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris”

National Gallery of Art
Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
September 29, 2013–January 5, 2014

Curated by Sarah Kennel

On the streets of 1860s Paris, the appearance of Charles Marville and his camera signaled one thing: There goes the quartier. The French photographer was point man for Baron Haussmann, the “demolition artist” who erased the old Paris and confected, as the Goncourt brothers put it, “a Babylon of the future.” Marville recorded picturesque, doomed intersections and new boulevards that stretch vacantly to the horizon like desert highways. The impression of a city rising into ruin is not retrospective fancy: Critics of the time called Haussmann “the Attila of the straight line.” Marville was more than a mere archivist of violent modernity, however, and with this unprecedented exhibition of some one hundred prints and an attending scholarly catalogue, the National Gallery restores the variety, depth, and strangeness of his art, left far too long in the shadows.

Travels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Jan. 29–May 4, 2014.