Berenice Abbott Photographer as Documentarian This Week at LiveAuctionTalk.com Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller. Her weekly column opens a window to the past. Visit the site. Sign up for a free weekly subscription.
News-Antique.com - Mar 25,2011 - Much of Berenice Abbott’s photography is about capturing and interpreting the spirit of everyday life in New York City. She was a documentarian as well as an artist with the camera. A witness to an era.
She saw the metropolis as alive and rapidly changing in the 1920s. Buildings were being torn down to make room for skyscrapers. Her goal was to capture Manhattan’s storefronts, architecture, skyline, congested streets, bridges and people before it all changed.
Berenice was a believer in realistic photography. New York was the perfect lead in for her. Her 1930s photos were cool and detached in the way they pictured the size and dominance of the city. Many of the landmarks she photographed no longer exist. Her photographs serve as historical source material as well as art.
“To make the portrait of a city is a life work and no one portrait suffices, because the city is always changing,” she said. “Everything in the city is properly part of its story.”
Her legacy of a changing New York reveals the heartbeat of a bygone era.
On Dec. 9, Swann Auction Galleries, New York, featured a selection of her photos in its Important Photographs & Photobooks auction.
A portfolio of her 12 photos entitled “New York II” sold in the auction for $21,600.
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