Berenice Abbott (American, 1898–1991) was a notable photographer, born in Springfield, OH. After studying at Ohio State University, she traveled to New York to study sculpture, where she met Modernist visionaries Marcel Duchamp (French, 1887–1968) and Man Ray (American, 1890–1976). Abbott began studying photography in the early 1920s, when she traveled to Europe and briefly attended both the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris and the Kunstschule in Berlin. While working as Man Ray’s assistant in Paris, Abbott first encountered the work of photographer Eugène Atget (French, 1857–1927), whose influence became apparent in Abbott’s own work. Shortly thereafter, Abbott established a portrait studio, and photographed various artists and literary figures living in Paris, including James Joyce. Her first exhibition took place in 1926 at the Au Sacre du Printemps Gallery. In 1929, Abbott journeyed back to the United States and began what is perhaps her best-known project, a series of iconic photographs of New York City, which would make up her 1937 exhibition, Changing New York. Her book, also titled Changing New York, was subsequently published in 1938. Abbott was a teacher at the New School for Social Research until 1958, and established the Photo League with fellow American photographer Paul Strand (American, 1890–1976) in 1936. She died in Monson, ME in 1991.

Timeline

1898
Born in Springfield, USA
1923
Hired by Man Ray as a darkroom assistant at his portrait studio in Montparnasse, France
1929
Moved to New York and began chronicling the architecture and urban life of the 1930s
1970
Her first major retrospective exhibition, held at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
1989
Received the International Center of Photography's Lifetime Achievement Award, New York, USA
1991
Died in Monson, USA

Exhibitions

2006
Speaking with Hands, Museum Folkwang Essen, Essen, Germany
American Icons, Corkin Shopland Gallery, Toronto, Canada
7 Documentarians, David Winton Bell Gallery, Providence, USA
2005
Boîte à conserves, Produzentengalerie Hamburg, Germany
Europe in Art: A HVB Group Project, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Hungary
2004
Duality/Dialectic, Davison Art Center, Middletown, USA
Modern Means: Continuity and Change in Art from 1880 to the Present, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
2003
Berenice Abbott's Circle: New York/Paris, Laurence Miller Gallery, New York, USA
Enchanted Evening, Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, USA
Vintage Photographs of NYC from the 1930s and 1940s, Lee Gallery, Winchester, USA
Künstlerphotographien: Berühmte Photographen portraitieren berühmte Künstler, Galerie Pudelko, Bonn, Germany
Une autre modernité: La question de la ville, 1915-1950, Musée dart contemporain de Montréal, Canada
2002
Shopping, Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England
New York, New York: The City in Photographs, Staley-Wise, New York, USA
Star Spangled Spirit, Bonni Benrubi Gallery, New York, USA
2001
Vital Form: American Art in the Anatomic Age, 1940-1960, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, USA
The Photograph and the American Dream: The Stephen White Collection II, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2000
Portfoglio: Photographs of a Century, Galerie Tanit, Munich, Germany
Photography in Boston: 1955-1985, DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, USA
150 Years of Photography, Davison Art Center, Middletown, USA
Desiring Eye: Retrospective of photography from Moderna Museet, Contemporary Art Center Vilnius, Vilnius, Lithuania
L'école de Paris, 1904-1929: La part de l'Autre, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris, France
1999
Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany
1998
Changing New York, Museum of the City of New York, New York, USA
Images from the Machine Age, International Center of Photography, New York, USA
Photographs by Berenice Abbott, Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, USA
Spirit of the Metropolis: Berenice Abbott's New York, Davison Art Center, Middletown, USA
1997
Tower Gallery, Yokahama, Japan
1996
Retrospective, International Center for Photography, New York, USA
1995
Photo Poche #61, Hank O'Neal, Paris, France
1994
FNAC Galeries Photo, Paris, France
1991
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, USA
1990
Group Exhibition, Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
Group Exhibition, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
1989
A Modern Vision, New York Public Library, New York, USA
1988
Aperture #9, Julia Van Haafte, New York, USA
1986
Retrospective, Ikona Gallery, Venice, Italy
1985
Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
1982
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
1981
Museum of the City of New York, New York, USA
1973
New York in the Thirties, Elizabeth McCaus, New York, USA
1970
Berenice Abbott Photographs Retrospective, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
1969
The Attractive Universe, E.G. Valens, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
1968
A Portrait of Maine, E.G. Valens, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
1953
San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, USA
1939
Changing New York, Elizabeth McCaus, New York, USA
1937
Changing New York, Museum of the City of New York, New York, USA
1928
First Salon of Independent Photographers, Paris, France
1926
Au Sacre du Printemps, Paris, France

Literature

1973
McCausland, Elizabeth. Changing New York. New York: Dutton, 1939. Reprint: New York in the Thirties, as Photographed by Berenice Abbott (New York: Dover).
1968
Hall, Chenoweth. A Portrait of Maine. (New York: Macmillan)
1949
Wysham, Henry. Greenwich Village: Yesterday and Today. (New York: Harper).