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Definition: Abbott, Berenice from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

US photographer. She is best known for her portrait studies of artists in the 1920s and for her comprehensive documentation of New York City in the 1930s, culminating in the publication of Changing New York 1939. Her straightforward style was partially influenced by the French photographer Eugène Atget, whose work she rescued from obscurity.


Abbott, Berenice

Summary Article: Abbott, Berenice
From Chambers Biographical Dictionary


US photographer

Born in Springfield, Ohio, she studied at Ohio State University with the intention of becoming a journalist, then moved to New York (1918), and to Europe (1921), where she studied sculpture. She worked in Paris as assistant to Man Ray (1923-25) and in 1926 opened her own portrait studio there. Her work was first shown at the Au Sacre du Printemps gallery, Paris (1926). In 1929 she returned to work in New York, where from 1934 she also taught photography. From the early 1930s she became the companion of art historian and critic Elizabeth McCausland, and in 1968 settled in Maine. Abbott is well known for her innovative documentation of town- and cityscapes, for example her project Changing New York (1929-39, also the title of a book, 1939, with text by McCausland), and her pioneering illustrations of the laws and processes of physics. Her other publications include, as editor, The World of Atget (1964) and as photographer, The Attractive Universe (1969, text by E G Valens).

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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