Berenice Abbott – USA (1898 – 1991)

Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991), born Bernice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her black-and-white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s … full long text) … more on wikipedia: changing NY; scientific work; Approach to photography; Europe: Photography and poetry.

… During the 1920s Abbott became “the semiofficial portraitist of the intelligentsia” in Paris and New York. Her straightforward, detailed, powerful images of such luminaries as James Joyce, André Gide, and Peggy Guggenheim made her famous. In the 1930s, Abbott continued her portrait work while completing a 10-year project commissioned by the Works Progress Administration: documenting the changing landscape of New York City … (full text).

Accomplished American photographer Berenice Abbott may be best known for her photographs of New York City’s changing cityscape, but she also made memorable images of lesbians, bisexuals, and gay men in Paris in the 1920s and in New York from the 1930s through 1965 … (full text).

She said: “I didn’t decide to be a photographer; I just happened to fall into it” … (full text).


Berenice Abbott – USA (1898 – 1991)

Some of her photos:

Inspired by Berenice Abbott.

Abbott’s photographs consistently reflect her innate appreciation for the profound documentary capacity of rigorously conceived images to impart information in an aesthetically engaging way. Within four major thematic categories – Portraits (1920s-1930s), New York City (1930s-1940s), Science (1940-1950s), and American Scenes (1930s-1960s) – Abbott’s photographs effectively unite the personal and the impersonal in one penetrating body of work. Her systematic documentary photography of New York City for the Federal Arts Project during 1935-1939, Changing New York is the subject pictured here … (full text).

Her art published by Steidl.

… Trees recur throughout the show, as do photographs with a mystical or indwelling aspect, and images of the American Southwest (recall the O’Keeffe connection). Women photographers are well represented, too. Besides Gilpin, Jacobi, and Bry, they include Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White, Chris Enos, and Lilo Raymond. The exhibition is the third in an ongoing series at Yale curated by students, mostly undergraduates. Like Bry, the students have impressive eyes. The hanging of the show is full of happy linkages … (full text).

… on Spartacus Educational.

Berenice Abbott’s time in Paris in the 1920s brought her into contact with Eugene Atget whose memory and images she preserved. With her own work she transfered his rigorous documentary style to New York, where, like Atget she recorded a disappearing way of life. (Rathbone).

Berenice Abbott online on ARTcyclopedia.

… After experimenting with sculpture in her early twenties, Abbott left America for Paris where she began her photographic career in 1923 as the darkroom assistant and apprentice to Man Ray. Later she established her own portrait studio, where she photographed many of the celebrated literary and artistic figures of the day. Abbott championed “straight” photography, that is, using no special effects. She argued that, by the very nature of its realistic image, photography was documentary and, as such, found its best expression in clearly focused, highly detailed images. Abbott maintained that this relatively new art form could never grow up if it imitated other media … (full text).

A biography of the artist Berenice Abbott from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s collection.

She said also: “Suppose we took a thousand negatives and made a gigantic montage: a myriad-faceted picture containing the elegances, the squalor, the curiosities, the monuments, the sad faces, the triumphant faces, the power, the irony, the strength, the decay, the past, the present, the future of a city – that would be my favorite picture”. (

… on National Portrait Gallery.

And she said: … I always had my own business in New York City. The only time I had an assignment was on the Federal Arts Project, and that lasted for three years. Which made me extremely happy, because as a supervisor, I got a small salary of $35 a week plus the cost of materials. That was a great help to me; it was all I needed. I wasn’t looking to make money. My interest was to photograph New York, above everything … (full interview text).

Then she said: “I’m not a woman photographer; I’m a photographer“.

Find her on amazon; on Google images-search; on Google Video-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.

Another Bio on Aerican Art.

links for today’s exhibitions including her photos:

China’s Changes; Artists Entwined; Colorful Grids: Chelsea Art, Aug 17, 2008;

Free Public Exhibit Opens Exploring the Evolution of the South Street Seaport, Aug 5, 2008;

Photographs by André Kertész On View at the Portland Museum of Art, Aug 29, 2008;, Aug 12, 2008;

A Mix of Photos, Side by Side, Aug 14, 2008;

Del. Art Museum shows off presents, Aug 8, 2008;

Photography curator joins CAM, Aug 7, 2008;

KURZ and KRITISCH, Germany, Aug 27, 2008.

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