Berenice Abbott

1898-1991, Monson, ME

"Newsstand, East 32nd Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan," November 19, 1935

Gelatin silver print on photographic paper, dry mounted, under glass
From the edition printed circa 1979 by Todd Watts
Signed in pencil on the support board, lower right: Berenice Abbott; copyright ink stamps: Berenice Abbott/ Abbot, Maine ink stamp, and Artist's Commerce Graphics LTD; also stamped: From the Federal Art Project: / "Changing New York" / Museum of the City of New York, all verso
18.25" H x 23" W

  • Provenance: G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
    Property of an Estate, Beverly Hills, CA
  • Notes: Born in Springfield, Ohio, in 1898, Berenice Abbott's artistic career began when she moved to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture. Though Abbott is recognized as an accomplished photographer, it was her complete unfamiliarity with photography that drew her to the Dada/Surrealist photographer Man Ray through an exhibition at his gallery; he would later hire her as his studio assistant in 1923. The time she spent in the darkroom printing his photographs helped Abbott discover her interest in photography. Less than three years after she began working with Man Ray, Abbott opened her own photography studio on the Left Bank with the financial support of Peggy Guggenheim.

    Abbott returned to the United States in 1929 and New York City became her new home and her muse. Her ensuing work chronicled daily life in the city. As part of a project titled "Changing New York," Abbott focused her gaze on the city's architecture and its residents. In 1935, Abbott was subsequently hired by the Federal Art Project, a program intended to support unemployed artists during the Great Depression, which enabled her to continue "Changing New York" during a period when she would have otherwise struggled to support herself and the project financially. In 1939, she published her first book of the same title, which is now recognized as a preeminent example of social documentary photography.

    Yet, Abbott's photographs were not produced without controversy. During the McCarthy Era, she was labeled a "concealed communist" by the FBI in 1951 due to her association with the Photo League, a socially conscious cooperative of photographers who lived and worked in New York City. Abbott, who became fearful of government surveillance until she was de-listed from the FBI's watch list four years later, eventually resettled in Maine where she lived and worked until her death in 1991.

    This lot is accompanied by a copy of an invoice from G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Inc., Santa Monica, CA, dated September 15, 1993.
  • Condition: Very Good condition. Slight mat burn to the extreme edges of the support board.

    Frame: 31.5" H x 37.5" W x 1.5" D

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June 21, 2022 12:00 PM PDT
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