Berenice Abbott | the artist
The artist Berenice Abbott
Born 1898, Springfield Ohio, USA.
Died 1991, Monson Maine, USA.
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Berenice Abbott was born in Ohio in 1898, and first established herself in commercial portraiture in Paris and later in New York. Besides creating masterful bodies of work of the changing face of New York, scientific phenomena, Route 1, and Maine, Abbott was an inventor of photographic equipment, a pioneer in the teaching of photographic techniques, and the first and most committed person to champion the work of the turn-of-the-century French photographer, Eugene Atget.
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Berenice Abbotts lucid images of New York City remain an authoritative visual bridge linking the Citys physical ascendancy with its historic and human dimensions. As with many of her contemporaries, Abbott appreciated the novelty of her subject: an emerging modern city, analogous to the mythical phoenix, rising out of its nineteenth-century form and the human and financial ashes of the Great Depression into a new and astonishing world which was both promising and harsh…
New York 7, Holland Transportation Company
Digital Media Repository
Walker Art Center
The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are, whether a portrait, a city street, or a bouncing ball. In a word, I have tried to be objective. What I mean by objectivity is not the objectivity of a machine, but of a sensible human being with the mystery of personal selection at the heart of it. The second challenge has been to impose order onto the things seen and to supply the visual context and the intellectual framework-that to me is the art of photography…
“I didn’t decide to be a photographer; I just happened to fall into it,” Berenice Abbott once recalled. In 1917 Abbott went from her hometown of Springfield, Ohio, to Columbia University, intending to study journalism. Disappointed by her courses, Abbott soon switched to sculpture, which she studied in New York, Berlin, and Paris. It was only in Paris in 1923, when the avant-garde American expatriate Man Ray was looking for a darkroom assistant, that Abbott discovered her love and natural ability for working with the camera. She began taking portrait photographs and in 1926 opened her own studio. Abbott had the first of many one-woman exhibitions that same year…