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Berenice Abbott | MoMA

Berenice Abbott

American, 1898–1991 75 works online

An American photographer, Berenice Abbott was a central figure in and important bridge between the photographic circles and cultural hubs of Paris and New York. She was born in Springfield, Ohio, and in 1918 moved to New York, where she studied sculpture independently, meeting and making vital connections with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray, leaders of the American avant-garde. In 1921, Abbott moved to Paris and continued her study of sculpture there and, later, in Berlin, before returning to Paris and becoming an assistant at the Man Ray Studio, where she would master photography. Her first solo show was at the gallery Le Sacre du Printemps in Paris in 1926 and featured portraits of the Parisian avant-garde, a practice she continued throughout her years in Paris, as in James Joyce.

It was in 1925 at the Man Ray Studio that Abbott first saw photographs by Eugène Atget. After Atget’s death, in 1927, she collaborated with Julien Levy, of New York’s Julien Levy Gallery, to buy most of Atget’s negatives and prints, bringing them back to New York upon her return in 1929. Abbott’s initiative preserved the archive of this fin-de-siècle French photographer’s studio, which, given its influence on the avant-garde, has become an important chapter of Abbott’s legacy.

Arriving back in New York in 1929, Abbott was struck by the rapid transformation of the built landscape. On the eve of the Great Depression she began a series of documentary photographs of the city that, with the support of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1939, debuted in 1939 as the traveling exhibition and publication Changing New York, (see Daily News Building, 220 East 42nd Street, Manhattan, Fifth Avenue, Nos. 4, 6, 8, Manhattan, and Cedar Street from William Street, Manhattan. For the rest of her life Abbott advocated for a documentary style of photography as exemplified in this project, while also continuing to promote the work of Atget.

Her work was included in many influential exhibitions of the era, including the Salon de l’escalier, 1928; Fotografie der Gegenwart, 1929; Film und Foto, 1929; and Photography: 1839–1937, 1938; as well as in a solo-exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1932. In 1970, The Museum of Modern Art hosted a career retrospective.

Introduction by Mitra Abbaspour, Associate Curator, Department of Photography, 2014 Show full text
Wikipedia entry
Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991), née Bernice Alice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her portraits of between-the-wars 20th century cultural figures, New York City photographs of architecture and urban design of the 1930s, and science interpretation in the 1940s to 1960s.
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Getty record
Abbott worked in Paris as a darkroom assistant to American Surrealist photographer Man Ray in 1923. Although she is responsible for bringing international recognition to the work of French photographer Eugène Atget, she is best known for her black and white photographs of New York in transition in the 1930s.
Artist, Photographer
Berenice Abbott, Berenice Abbot
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Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License


75 works online

Berenice Abbott James Joyce 1926

Berenice Abbott Hands of Jean Cocteau 1927

Berenice Abbott Eugene Atget 1927

Berenice Abbott James Joyce 1928

Berenice Abbott El at Columbus Avenue and Broadway 1929

Berenice Abbott Barclay Street, Hoboken Ferry 1931

Berenice Abbott Rockefeller Center, New York City 1932

Berenice Abbott New York at Night 1932

Berenice Abbott Trinity Churchyard c. 1932

Berenice Abbott Exchange Place, New York 1933

Berenice Abbott Barclay Street Elevated Platform 1933

Berenice Abbott Newsstand, East 32nd Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan November 19, 1935

Berenice Abbott Blossom Restaurant, 103 Bowery, Manhattan October 24, 1935

Berenice Abbott Seventh Avenue Looking South from 35th Street, Manhattan December 5, 1935

Berenice Abbott Spring and Varick Streets, Manhattan October 7, 1935

Berenice Abbott West Side of Gramercy Park West, nos. 3-4, Manhattan November 27, 1935

Berenice Abbott Firehouse, Park Avenue, East 135th Street, Manhattan December 19, 1935

Berenice Abbott South and DePeyster Streets, Manhattan November 26, 1935

Berenice Abbott Daily News Building, 220 East 42nd Street, Manhattan November 21, 1935

Berenice Abbott Department of Docks Building, Pier A, Manhattan May 5, 1936

Berenice Abbott Canyon: Broadway and Exchange Place, Manhattan July 16, 1936

Berenice Abbott Willow Place, nos. 43-49, Brooklyn May 14, 1936

Berenice Abbott Lyric Theatre, 100 Third Avenue, Manhattan April 24, 1936

Berenice Abbott Starrett-Lehigh Building, 601 West 26th Street, Manhattan July 14, 1936

Berenice Abbott Talman Street between Jay and Bridge Streets, Brooklyn May 22, 1936

Berenice Abbott Brooklyn Bridge, Water and New Dock Streets, Brooklyn May 22, 1936

Berenice Abbott Pike and Henry Streets, Manhattan March 6, 1936

Berenice Abbott McGraw-Hill Building, 330 West 42nd Street, Manhattan May 25, 1936

Berenice Abbott Warehouse, Water and Dock Streets, Brooklyn May 22, 1936

Berenice Abbott Waterfront from Pier 19, East River, Manhattan August 12, 1936

Berenice Abbott Cropsey Avenue, no. 1736, Bath Beach, Brooklyn October 29, 1936

Berenice Abbott Fourth Avenue, no. 154, Brooklyn October 29, 1936

Berenice Abbott Washington Square North, nos. 21-25, Manhattan August 12, 1936

Berenice Abbott Downtown Skyport, Foot of Wall Street, Manhattan August 12, 1936

Berenice Abbott Sumner Healy Antique Shop, 942 Third Avenue October 8, 1936

Berenice Abbott Fifth Avenue, Nos. 4, 6, 8, Manhattan March 20, 1936

Berenice Abbott Cedar Street from William Street, Manhattan March 26, 1936

Berenice Abbott Poultry Shop, Lower East Side, New York City 1937

Berenice Abbott Wheelock House, 661 West 158th Street, Manhattan November 11, 1937

Berenice Abbott Corner of East 10th Street and Avenue D, Manhattan March 23, 1937

Berenice Abbott 27th Avenue, no. 1422, Astoria May 25, 1937

Berenice Abbott Three-Decker Houses, West 11th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Manhattan February 3, 1937

Berenice Abbott Doorway, 204 West 13th Street, Manhattan May 5, 1937

Berenice Abbott Gunsmith, 6 Centre Market Place, Manhattan February 4, 1937

Berenice Abbott TriBorough Bridge, East 125th Street Approach, Manhattan June 29, 1937

Berenice Abbott Father Duffy, Times Square April 14, 1937

Berenice Abbott View from West Street, Manhattan March 23, 1938

Berenice Abbott Hardware Store, 316-318 Bowery, Manhattan January 26, 1938

Berenice Abbott Financial District Rooftops I, Manhattan May 4, 1938

Berenice Abbott Old Post Office, Broadway and Park Row, Manhattan May 4, 1938

Berenice Abbott Rockefeller Center c. 1936

Berenice Abbott Charles Lane between West and Washington Streets, Manhattan September 20, 1938

Berenice Abbott Jacob Heymann Butcher Shop, New York City 1938

Berenice Abbott Grace M. Mayer c. 1936

Berenice Abbott Snuff Shop, 113 Division Street, New York 1938

Berenice Abbott Rockefeller Center c. 1936

Berenice Abbott Soap Bubbles 1946

Berenice Abbott An Industrial Designer's Window, Bleecker Street 1948

Berenice Abbott Christopher Street Shop 1948

Berenice Abbott Old Cafe, Lafayette Hotel 1949

Berenice Abbott Zito's Bakery, Bleecker Street c. 1948

Berenice Abbott Muller's Antique Shop, Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street c. 1948

Berenice Abbott Commerce Street with Cherry Lane Theatre c. 1948

Berenice Abbott Village Presbyterian Church, 143 West 13th Street c. 1948

Berenice Abbott Leaf, Supersight 1940s

Berenice Abbott Milliken's General Store, Bridgewater, Maine 1954

Berenice Abbott Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman Negative c. 1930/Distortion c. 1950

Berenice Abbott A Gold Ball Bouncing Along a Hard Flat Board, Loses Energy. Where Has All the Energy Gone? 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Interference of Waves 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Photogram: Wave Pattern, MIT 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Photogram: Wave Pattern, MIT 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Photogram: Wave Pattern, MIT 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Wave Pattern with Glass Plate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Focusing Water Waves, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1958-61

Berenice Abbott Photogram: Wave Pattern, MIT 1958-61


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