A new book features 80 old black-and-white photos of Paris superimposed on the same scenes today. By insetting historical photographs into contemporary settings, the author, French art director Julien Knez, opens a window to the past, allowing events in the city's history to be integrated into the present day.
Knez found photos of Paris taken between 1871 and 1968, and then photographed the same site from the same angle. He says it's not a question of juxtaposition, but of incrustation. "An event that has left no material, tangible trace recovers a genuine geographical existence, while the city of today becomes literally inhabited by its history – even if this history has not fashioned its shape," he writes.
The sights captured in the historic photos include the great flood of 1910, the student protests of 1968 and Adolf Hitler taking a quick tour of the city's main tourist spots in 1940.
IBTimesUK presents a few images from Paris, Fenêtres sur l'Histoire by Julien Knez, published by Parigramme on 24 March 2016, and available from Amazon.
Place Vendôme, May 1871: Posing winningly or nonchalantly, the fédérés (revolutionary combatants) assigned with defending the barricade on Rue de Castiglione gaze at the photographer’s lens, and beyond, at the unfolding history: that of the Paris Commune uprisings, which would end with the tragic Bloody Week from 21 to 28 May 1871.
Jardin du Luxembourg, 1895: These elegant ladies at the Jardin du Luxembourg were at the forefront of fashion, so rare was it in 1895 for women’s wear to be presented outdoors rather than in workshops. Coco Chanel would turn fashion photography on racecourses or on the decks of beach resorts into a common practice, but this was still several years away.
Julien Knez/Ernest Roger/Roger-Viollet
Eiffel Tower, 1900: These strollers were undoubtedly visitors to the Universal Exposition, of which two attractions can be distinguished: between the legs of the Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Electricity, and on the right, the Ferris wheel on Avenue de Suffirent.
Julien Knez/RMN-Grand Palais (MuCEM)/Franck Raux
Place de l’Opéra, 1900: In front of the Napoléon III pomp of the Palais Garnier stands the Place de l’Opéra, in 1900 not yet fitted with its present-day median strip and Metro exit.
Julien Knez/Léon et Lévy/Roger-Viollet
On Avenue de Friedland in 1909: Double-decker trams drop off passengers just next to the Arc de Triomphe.
Julien Knez/Maurice-Louis Branger/Roger-Viollet
Quai des Grands-Augustins, January 1910. The Great Flood of Paris inundated the Quai des Grands-Augustins, navigated here by boat. The ground floors of buildings filled with water, and outdoor ladders were used to access the upper floors of buildings.
Julien Knez/Collection particulière
Métro Odéon, January 1910: Getting around by boat at Odéon station while the Metro tracks remained drenched by flood waters.
Julien Knez/Musée Carnavalet/Roger-Viollet
Quai Saint-Michel, 1914: Booksellers' stalls line the Quai Saint-Michel.
Julien Knez/Albert Harlingue/Roger-Viollet
Boulevard Haussmann, June 1930: In front of the Printemps department store.
Quai d’Orléans, 1930: Swimming at the Quai d’Orléans, not far from the Pont Saint-Louis. Bathing in the Seine was forbidden in 1923 but the practice would continue regardless until the 1950s. Despite repeated promises and a marked improvement in the quality of the water, those who dived in the river ran the risk of fines (and possibly contamination).
Julien Knez/Photothèque des Jeunes Parisiens
Place de l’Opéra, June 1940: On the day after the Armistice establishing German occupation of part of France, Hitler made a lightning trip to Paris on 23 June 1940. Between six and eight in the morning, the Führer made a landlord’s tour as well as a tourist visit, hurriedly taking in Notre-Dame, the Louvre, the Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, the Trocadéro esplanade – and here, the Opéra.
Julien Knez/Suddeutsche Zeitung/Rue des Archives
Rue Gay-Lussac, May 1968: On the night of 10 May 1968, barricades were set up in the Latin Quarter, especially on Rue Gay-Lussac. In the morning, security police took control of the battleground, littered with the chaos of overturned vehicles that had been set alight.
Julien Knez/Fondation Gilles Caron/Gamma-Rapho
Paris, Fenêtres sur l'Histoire by Julien Knez is published by Parigramme on 24 March 2016