Berenice Abbott: Paris Portraits 1925-1930
The photographs that launched Abbott's career: portraits of artists and writers in prewar Paris, from Jean Cocteau to James Joyce
This is one in a series of books to be published by Steidl that will explore Berenice Abbott's oeuvre. Abbott began her photographic career in Paris in 1925, taking portraits of some the most celebrated artists and writers of the day, including Marie Laurencin, Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim, Coco Chanel, Max Ernst, André Gide, Philippe Soupault and James Joyce. Within a year her work was exhibited and acclaimed. Paris Portraits 1925-1930 features the results of Abbott's earliest photographic project and illustrates the philosophy of all her subsequent work. For this landmark book, 115 portraits of 83 subjects have been scanned from the original glass negatives, which have been printed in full.
Berenice Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898. She left Ohio State University early for New York's Greenwich Village in 1918, where she spent several years before studying in Europe. Abbott was first introduced to photography while studying sculpture in Paris; she became Man Ray's darkroom assistant and soon began her own studio, practicing primarily portrait photography. In 1929 she returned to New York, photographing its neighborhoods, buildings and residents. After a lung operation in the 1950s, on doctor's orders to escape urban pollution, Abbott resettled in Maine, where she would remain until her death in 1991.
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[The book] features 115 portraits of 83 subjects that have been scanned from the original glass negatives and printed in full, as well as the final crops as Abbott intended. The juxtaposing result, as O'Neal told In Sight, allows you to "see her process. You see what she is doing. You see an artist at work."--Karly Domb Sadof "The Washington Post"
a pristine collection examining the first phase of [Abbott's] career as a portrait photographer--Lew Whittington "New York Journal of Books"
a deeply intimate view into these quiet yet powerful photographs--Miss Rosen "Feature Shoot"
There is a unity in Abbott's portraiture--finely presented in Steidl's indispensible Paris Portraits: 1925-1930...the ambiguity a product of the interaction between Abbott and her sitter. Her great achievement was to capture this fleeting milieu, on neither her nor her subjects' terms exclusively, but on the fertile middle ground.--Julian Cosma "Art News"
She lived with Djuna Barnes, photographed Man Ray, and taught Marcel Duchamp how to dance. Upon the release of a book showcasing her famous Paris Portraits, we discover the woman behind the camera.--Carey Dunne "Another Magazine"
...it's the uncropped plates that turn Berenice Abbott - Paris Portraits 1925-1930 into the treasure it is, one of the finest photobooks I have come across this year.--Hank O'Neal "cphmag.com"
Inventor, entrepreneur, and "proud proto-feminist" Berenice Abbott was many things in addition to a pioneering photographer, but Steidl's gorgeous Paris Portraits 1925-1930 focuses on this discrete body of work; it's reportedly the first in a series of Abbott titles, the rest of which can't come soon enough.--John DeFore "The Hollywood Reporter"