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Abbott, Berenice

Abbott, Berenice bĕr˝ənēs´ [key], 1898–1991, American photographer, b. Springfield, Ohio. Abbott, who had left (1918) the Midwest for Greenwich Village, then (1921) Paris, had become a sculptor before turning to photography in 1923. She was assistant (1923–25) to Man Ray , and made an extraordinary series of portraits of the artistic and literary celebrities of 1920s Paris. Returning to the States in 1929, she began her great documentation of New York City; her Nightview, New York (1932) is one of the most enduring images of the city. Many of the best of the photographs were collected in Changing New York (1939). During the Depression, she worked for the Federal Art Project and did portraits for Fortune magazine. In 1958 she produced stunning photographs for a high-school physics text that some critics consider her finest work. Abbott discovered the work of Eugène Atget in 1925 and ultimately secured him international recognition. Her own work was rediscovered in the 1970s.

See her Photographs (1970); biography by J. Van Haaaften (2018).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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