Media File
Berenice Abbott
Date: American photographer, 1898–1991
Biography: American photographer Berenice Abbott is best known for her documentary photographs of New York City's streets and buildings. She was born in Springfield, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University. In 1918, she moved with friends to Greenwich Village in New York. She shared an apartment with the writer Djuna Barnes, philosopher Kenneth Burke, and literary critic Malcolm Cowley. She joined the artistic and literary scene in the Village, befriending the anarchist Hippolyte Havel, playwright Eugene O'Neill, and artist Man Ray. She went to Europe in 1921, studying sculpture in Paris and Berlin and publishing an experimental literary journal. She began to photograph after working as a darkroom assistant for Man Ray. Her early photographs were portraits of individuals in the artistic and literary worlds, and she had her first solo exhibition in 1926. In 1925 Man Ray introduced her to the work of Eugene Atget and she purchased many of his prints and negatives in 1928. She produced a book of his work and persuaded the Museum of Modern Art to purchase her archive of his work in 1968. Abbott chronicled the buildings and inhabitants of New York in her series Changing New York, produced in the 1930s, and published as a book in 1939.