Our Art / Berenice Abbott / City Arabesque, from roof of 60 Wall Tower, Manhattan

City Arabesque, from roof of 60 Wall Tower, Manhattan by Berenice Abbott

City Arabesque, from roof of 60 Wall Tower, Manhattan, 1938

Berenice Abbott

This photograph has us peering through the graceful curves of a decorative railing from a dizzying height at a skyscraper-packed quadrant of Manhattan. The image is a study in contrasts: the bending black bars in the foreground against the blocky white rectangular buildings below; the compressed space the camera occupies versus the expanse of city stretching beyond the frame. Yet the artist creates symmetry as well. Notice the curving edge of the island at upper right; it bends parallel to the central bar of the railing. Part of this image’s artistry is the composition, which transforms it from a standard postcard view to a meditation on geometry and perspective.

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Credit
New York Public Library