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Paris: Portrait of a City [Hardcover]

Jean-Claude Gautrand
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Jan. 24 2012

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.


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About the Author

The editor and author:
Jean Claude Gautrand (b. 1932) is one of France's most distinguished experts on photography. An active photographer since 1960, he has also made a name for himself as a journalist and critic, with numerous publications. He is the author of the TASCHEN books on Doisneau (2003), Brassaï (2004) and Ronis (2005).


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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What awful cover March 11 2012
Format:Hardcover
I just read about this book in the New York Times and became excited to offer it as a gift to a close friend, a father of 5, but was very disappointed when I saw the cover at Amazon. The cover definitely does not summarize the contents of the book, it just seems a stupid choice.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent June 30 2012
By Arch Stanton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Not sure why a book would receive a downgraded review because of shipping issues, exactly. Mine arrived in pristine shape, cheaper and smarter than dragging it home on a flight from their Paris shop. All the great photographers and iconic images are represented here. Easily the best of their "Portrait of a City" books, although perhaps I am just partial to the City of Light. Easily worth 5 times the price.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent collection July 9 2012
By Celeste - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a magnificent collection of photos of all aspects of Paris life from the earliest days of photography to today. Thank you, Amazon, for making this masterpiece available at so reasonable a price.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal book! Now about the naked chick... March 8 2013
By TominVA - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is just a really wonderful series featuring big, beautiful hardcover books. Regarding Paris, I can empathize with reviewers who weren't too happy with what now appears to be the original photo choice for the dust jacket. From the looks of the Amazon listing, the Helmut Newton image of a nude model looking out over a fairly unremarkable portion of Paris has been replaced by a shot of the Moulin Rouge. I suppose that makes my copy a collectors item?

Well, even if you have kids, honestly, a shot of a woman with her derrière and one breast exposed is hardly scandalous and certainly not pornographic. Crass? Cliché? Ok, but that's about it. This is otherwise an amazing photographic history of Paris and very worthy of a place on your shelf or coffee table. I've just received the New York book in this series and can't wait to order the Los Angles one as well.

As a publisher, Taschen has sacrificed...I dunno...taste? class?...in recent years. Like other art publishers, it doesn't shy away from darker themed books, even giving pride of place to human genitalia, so the original choice of Madame Boobery for the Paris cover was hardly surprising. I'm happy to report though that for this series at least, the practice of stamping "25 Years" all over it's books to celebrate the their silver jubilee has finally been retired.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Typically Taschen Jan. 2 2013
By Jonathan H. Stone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a marvelous overview of art styles, architecture and history of the city of lights. Bindings and paper are all top notch as is expected of Taschen. This is a coffee table treasure to be poured over and savored for years. You'll learn something interesting on just about every page.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Large book with lots of lovely pictures Feb. 14 2014
By G. Morris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The format of this book is "coffee table". As such, the pictures are very generous in size and quantity. And there are many interesting period pictures, many of which I had never seen before. If you love Paris and want to see a pictorial history, then this book is highly recommended.
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