Aperture Masters of Photography: Berenice Abbott
Photographs by Berenice Abbott
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An innovative documentary photographer, Berenice Abbott pioneered scientific images and photographed the fast-changing landscape of her times. Abbott studied journalism for a year in Ohio before moving to New York in 1918 to study sculpture, where she met Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. She later moved to France in the 1920s and worked for Ray in his portrait studio before setting out on her own. Her portraits captured many individuals asso- ciated with avant-garde art movements, including author James Joyce and artist Max Ernst. Moving back to New York at the end of the decade, she began her renowned Changing New York series (later published as a book in 1939), and went on to become picture editor for Science Illustrated. In this redesigned and expanded version of a classic Aperture book, Abbott’s work is introduced by historian Julia Van Haaften, and includes new, image-by- image commentary and a chronology of this innovative artist’s life.
Berenice Abbott (born in Springfield, Ohio, 1898; died in Monson, Maine, 1991) first estab- lished herself in commercial portraiture in Paris and later in New York. She not only created masterful bodies of work on the changing face of New York, scientific phenomena, Route 1, and Maine, but Abbott also invented photographic equipment, pioneered the teaching of photographic techniques, and was the first and most committed champion of the work of turn-of-the-century French photographer Eugène Atget.
Julia Van Haaften (introduction and commentary) is a prolific writer and curator. She most recently curated Berenice Abbott: Photography and Science (2012) for the MIT Museum, which traveled to Moscow’s Multimedia Art Museum.