Berenice Abbott, American (1898 - 1991)

Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott (July 17, 1898 – December 9, 1991), née Bernice Abbott, was an American photographer best known for her black-and-white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s.

Berenice Abbott was born in Springford, Ohio, in 1898. After graduating from Ohio State University she moved to New York to study journalism, but eventually decided on sculpture and painting.

In 1921 she moved to Paris to study with sculptor Emile Bourdelle. Abbot also worked with the surrealist photographer, Man Ray (1923-25), before opening her own studio in Paris. She photographed the leading artists in France and had her first exhibition at the Au Sacre du Printemps Gallery in 1926.

Abbott returned to the United States in 1929 and embarked on a project to photograph New York. In 1935 she managed to obtain funding for this venture from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and its Federal Art Project.

In 1936 Abbott joined with Paul Strand to establish the Photo League. Its initial purpose was to provide the radical press with photographs of trade union activities and political protests. Later the group decided to organize local projects where members concentrated on photographing working class communities.

Abbott's photographs of New York appeared in the exhibition, Changing New York, at the Museum of the City in 1937. A book, Changing New York, was published in 1939. She is also published a Guide to Better Photography (1941). In the late 1950s Abbott began to take photographs that illustrated the laws of physics. Berenice Abbott died in Monson, Maine, in 1991.

Notable photographs
Under the El at the Battery, New York, 1936.
Nightview, New York, 1932.
James Joyce, 1928.

Solo Exhibitions
Solo exhibition at Weyhe Gallery, New York, NY, November 1930[24]
Photographs by Berenice Abbott at Julien Levy Gallery, New York, NY, September 26 – October 15, 1932
New York Photographs by Berenice Abbott at Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY, October 1934 – January 1935
New York Photographs by Berenice Abbott at Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA, March 1935
New York Photographs by Berenice Abbott at Jerome Stavola Gallery, Hartford, CT, April 1935
New York Photographs by Berenice Abbott at Fine Arts Guild, Cambridge, MA, April 10–15, 1935
Changing New York, Washington Circuit, Federal Art Project, traveling exhibition, 1936
Changing New York at Museum of the City of New York, New York, NY, October 20, 1937 – January 3, 1938
Changing New York at Teachers College Library, New York, NY, November 1937
Solo exhibition at Hudson D. Walker Gallery, New York, NY, April 1938
Changing New York at New York State Museum, Albany, NY, July 1938
Changing New York at Federal Art Gallery, New York, NY, April 11–22, 1939
Solo exhibition at Architectural League, New York, NY, April 1939
Changing New York at Lawrenceville School, Lawrence Township, NJ, May 1939
Changing New York at Photo League Gallery, New York, NY, July 1939
Changing New York at New York State Employment Service, New York, NY, November–December 1939
Changing New York at Walton High School, New York, NY, December 1939
Photographs of New York by Berenice Abbott at The Cooper Union Library, New York, NY, November 25 – December 9, 1940
Berenice Abbott, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, December 10, 1970–February 28, 1971
Berenice Abbott: The Red River Photographs at Hudson D. Walker Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts, August 24 – September 6, 1979.[25]
Documenting New York: Photographs by Berenice Abbott, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas,1992
Berenice Abbott: Portraits, New York Views, and Science Photographs from the Permanent Collection, International Center for Photography, New York, NY, 1996
Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.,1935-1939, 1998–99
Berenice Abbott: All About Abbott, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY, September 15 - November 4, 2006
Making Science Visible: The Photography of Berenice Abbott, The Fralin Museum of Art, Virginia, 2012
Berenice Abbott (1898-1991), Photographs, Jeu de Paume, Paris, France, February 21 - April 29, 2012
Berenice Abbott: Photography and Science: An Essential Unity, MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, May 3 - December 31, 2012
Berenice Abbott, Beetles & Huxley Gallery, London, England, October 27 – November 21, 2015
Berenice Abbott – Photographs, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin, Germany, January 7 – March 10, 2016

Group Exhibitions
Photographs of New York by New York Photographers (group) at Julien Levy Gallery, New York, NY, May 2 – June 2, 1932
A History of Women Photographers, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.,1997
Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.,1999–2000
From the Collection: Portraits of Women by Women, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C., 2006
A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, February 8–November 2, 2014
Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, December 13, 2014–April 19, 2015
Revelations: Experiments in Photography, Science Museum, London, England, November 20, 2015 – February 3, 2016

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