Berenice Abbott

“…people say they need to express their emotions I’m sick of that. Photography doesn`t teach you to express your emotions, it teaches you to see.” Berenice Abbott (

It is not her portraits or the road trip photographs, nor her scientific work for which Berenice Abbott will be remembered. Firstly, she will always be remembered as the person who photographed Eugene Atget in 1927 just before he died and who bought the remainder of his negatives (after the French government had bought over 2,000 in 1920 and another 2,000 had been sold after his death). She then tirelessly promoted Atget’s work helping him gain international recognition until her sale of the archive to the Museum of Modern Art in 1968. Secondly, she is remembered for her magnificent photographs of New York City and its urban environs, photographs that show the influence of Atget in their attention to detail and understanding of the placement of the camera, and imaging of old and new parts of the city (much as Atget had photographed old Paris before it was destroyed). However, these photographs are uniquely her own, with their modernist New Vision aesthetic, bold perspectives and use of deep chiaroscuro to enhance form within the photograph. Abbott’s best known project, Changing New York (1935-39) eventually consisted of 305 photographs that document the buildings of Manhattan, some of which are now destroyed....

"Berenice Abbott spent years chronicling the evolution of New York City. She captured the architecture, the people and the spirit of one of the busiest, most dynamic and influential cities in the world. Many of these prints capture iconic images of the New York City from Abbott's creative perspective but still with...
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First Collected by

David Smith


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