The Unknown Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott, 1929

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New York - Early Work 1929–1931

You Can’t Go Home Again, the title of the famous Thomas Wolff novel, has generally meant that the home of one’s memory has significantly changed. For Berenice Abbott arriving in New York City in 1929 for a brief visit, after living abroad for almost a decade, the transformation was overwhelming and exciting. Perhaps with Atget’s monumental photographic record of Paris in mind, Abbott became consumed with the idea of photographing New York. She briefly returned to Paris, sold her belongings, packed up the Atget archive, and came back to New York to begin a photographic journey. Thus began a love affair with this city that lasted over 30 years.

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The American Scene 1930–1935

The American Scene is another in a series of relatively unknown work by Berenice Abbott. While Abbott was not a landscape photographer, these scenes produce a vision of contrasts between urban and rural America. There were many photographers that have photographed America, but few can have the insight into what is especially American as one who had left America and then came back. Despite living abroad for almost a decade, Abbott always felt herself to be as American as apple pie. So when she returned, she saw America with fresh eyes, and this was reflected in her early New York work.

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Deep Woods – The Logging Photographs

It is interesting that Berenice was so good at photographing large trees, forestry and the logging of these magnificent trees. It seemed that she never forgot this gift and brought it to do similar work in her new home, Maine, in the 1960s. She produced more exceptional photographs of men at work logging – different trees, different climate, different ends of the United States – but fundamentally the same principles applied. These images are distinctly Abbott – strong, direct, and well-planned.

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Greenwich Village 1935–1950

Greenwich Village seems not exactly a village, but as Hank O’Neal said in his essay, “is more a state of mind.” It is a small neighborhood in a very large city – New York – and for many years it was the artistic and intellectual core of that great city. When Berenice Abbott first came from Ohio to New York, she was entranced, not only by the city itself, but by the people that she came to know in Greenwich Village. The influence of that special place and those special people was profound and clearly shaped and cultivated her artistic talents and intellectual curiosity.

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U.s.1, U.s.a.

Route 1 originated as trails that the early colonists rode in the 18th century. It stretches from the Canadian border in the north to the Florida Keys in the south. Connecting most of the major cities along the east coast of the United States, it was for many years the major north-south highway serving the region. The historical significance was certainly important to Abbott, but the primary appeal was to photograph and preserve a picture of American life of that time, as it appeared in the distinct culture of each state along the way. Hundreds of photographs were taken both in black-and-white and color, with the intent of making a book of these pictures that would reflect, in Abbott’s words, “the look and feel of this oldest of our national highways.”


By Berenice Abbott

DE: 285.00 EUR | Available

ISBN 13 9783869306506

Number Pages 1244

Language English

-Hardback / Clothbound in slipcase