Monday 5/02/2005


Bernice Abbott learned the technique of photography in the 1920’s while apprenticing to Man Ray in Paris. She then opened her own studio and produced portraits of the artists and scholars in the city, notably James Joyce and Eugene Atget. After the death of the latter, Abbott helped to promote his work by preserving his negatives and distributing his prints for publications and exhibitions. Upon her return to the United States, she took interest in photographing the cityscape of New York and published a book of her images entitled, Changing New York. From the 1930’s to 1958, Abbott taught at the New School for Social Research.
In 1936 Abbott joined with Paul Strand to establish the Photo League. Its initial purpose was to provide the radical press with photographs of trade union activities and political protests. Later the group decided to organize local projects where members concentrated on photographing working class communities.

Abbott's photographs of New York appeared in the exhibition, Changing New York, at the Museum of the City in 1937. A book, Changing New York, was published in 1939. She is also published a Guide to Better Photography (1941). In the late 1950s Abbott began to take photographs that illustrated the laws of physics. Berenice Abbott died in Monson, Maine, in 1991.

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