The Unknown Berenice Abbott
Berenice Abbott (Photographer)
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DescriptionThe five comprehensive volumes of The Unknown Berenice Abbott present hundreds of unseen and till now unpublished images from the sweep of Berenice Abbott's seminal career. New York--Early Work contains rare images of New York after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 made by Abbott with a small hand-held camera as sketches for large format photographs. The American Scene showcases photographs from Abbott's journeys through America in 1933, 1934 and 1935, hardly seen since that time. Deep Woods presents Abbott's 1943 and 1967 images of the Red River Logging Company in California's High Sierra Mountains, her first such documentary project. Greenwich Village collects for the first time the spectrum of Abbott's photographs of Manhattan's beloved Lower West Side neighborhood, her home when she left Ohio in 1918 and again in the mid-1930s. Finally, U.S. 1, U.S.A., including Abbott's first experimental work in color, records her ambitious trip down the length of U.S. Route 1 in 1954, a precursor to Robert Frank's The Americans.
October 15, 2013
15.3 X 8.0 X 14.2 inches | 29.6 pounds
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About the Author
Berenice Abbott was a pioneer of documentary photography. A tireless proponent of realism, she achieved distinction within several genres of photography, over successive periods of her career. In France in the 1920s she assisted Man Ray in his portrait studio before setting out on her own. Her distinctive portraits made during the '20s captured artists in Paris with a timeless dignity. Her subjects included photographer Eugène Atget, whose reputation today results from Abbott's recognition and advocacy of his work. Moving back to New York in 1929, she immersed herself for a decade in documenting the city, publishing Changing New York in 1939. These became the photographs for which she is best known and loved. She went on to develop a serious interest in the documentation and visualizing of scientific phenomena, including as picture editor for Science Illustrated. For her last series, on U.S. Route 1, and Maine, Abbott returned to a more traditional documentary language. Abbott died in Monson, Maine, in 1991.
The more we see of Abbott's oeuvre, the more we realize that while its space is expansive, its scale (even when picturing a cluster of skyscrapers or ponderosa pines) is against grandness. Her photographs locate a visual detail at work in the world, and let it slowly activate an ordinary scene, whether it's the shadow of a building, falling hard and flat against another, or the synchronous expression in the eyes of a birdsmith and his dog.--Prudence Peiffer "Bookforum "