Our Art / Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott

Abbott (1898 – 1991) photographed 19th-century New York as it transformed into the dense, skyscraper city of the future. She first became involved with photography when Man Ray hired her as a darkroom assistant, and Ray introduced her to Eugène Atget's photographs. Soon after Atget’s death, Abbott diligently printed, published, and promoted Atget’s film and photography, helping the late photographer gain international recognition.

Inspired by the flâneur photography that Atget captured while strolling through urban landscapes, Abbott photographed New York City with her own large format camera with the attention to detail and spontaneity she so admired in Atget. Part of the straight photography movement, she stressed the importance of photographs being unmanipulated in both subject matter and developing processes. Her photographs now provides a historical chronicle of many now-destroyed buildings and neighborhoods of Manhattan, captured through her own eyes.