Robert Doisneau: Paris Les Halles Market
Doisneaus photographs of the now vanished Les Halles evoke nostalgia for the days when the vast market, which sprawled haphazardly over the center of the city, was known as the belly of Paris. Once alive with the cries of fruit-sellers, fish-vendors, butchers, and florists, the scent of brightly-colored flower bouquets intermingling with wafts of freshly baked bread, and heaving with swarms of market-goers, today there is no trace of the nine-hundred-year-old market place that used to stand in the center of Paris at Les Halles. The immense Baltard Pavilions were torn down in 1971 to make way for a modern underground shopping precinct, but Parisians still hold a special affection for days gone by when, to borrow an expression used by Émile Zola, the bustling markets formed the belly of their city. One such Parisian in particular was Robert Doisneau, one of the best loved French photographers of all time. Driven by his relentless curiosity and a sense of social conscience, Doisneau paced the Pavilions and their neighboring streets at length, and here he captured the heart of daily life at Les Halles. Many of Doisneaus romantic photographs have become iconic representations of twentieth-century Paris, but this volume exhibits some of his lesser-known but nonetheless extraordinary works. He had an uncanny capacity for capturing poetry in ordinary moments: a smiling fruit-seller bellows from behind a pyramid of oranges, while a fish-vendor hauls a cart of gigantic fish past a mountain of flower bouquets ready to grace Parisian dinner tables, which you can virtually smell. Doisneau has immortalized the bustling magic of Les Halles in his bold and busy photographs. Coinciding with the long-awaited redevelopment of this area that began in 2011, this volume plunges the reader back through time to the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of the vanished era of Doisneaus Les Halles, whilst commentary from the photographers personal notebooks places his images in their economic and political context.
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