The French art critic Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821 – 1867) said about artists of that time:
“The painters of now must no longer spend their time in their studios studying plaster casts, clothing their subjects in the costumes of ancient Greeks and Romans: no, the painters of now must immerse themselves in the chaos of the city, plunge into the crowd, become at once mirrors and kaleidoscopes, reflecting every fragment, every corner of modern life no matter how base, vulgar or ugly. The painter of today must go in search of modernity.”
Of course Baudelaire would have been commenting on the future of the art which would lead to Impressionism and the work of artists such a Renoir, Monet and Pissarro, but his words and sentiments can be applied equally well to the growth of the nascent medium of photography which was increasingly powerful in its’ artistic importance.
His words should be used today as guidance to the value of street photography as an art form which is as vital and as valuable as a record of social history as anything any artist put by brush on to canvas.