b. 1898, d. 1991
The challenge for me has first been to see things as they are, whether a portrait, a city street, or a bouncing ball. In a word, I have tried to be objective. What I mean by objectivity is not the objectivity of a machine, but of a sensible human being with the mystery of personal selection at the heart of it. The second challenge has been to impose order onto the things seen and to supply the visual context and the intellectual framework-that to me is the art of photography.--Berenice Abbott
At age seventy-seven Berenice Abbott thus explained her approach to making images. She learned photography in the 1920s in Paris, as a studio assistant of fellow American expatriate Man Ray. She soon opened her own portrait studio, where she photographed artists and intellectuals living in Paris, including James Joyce and Eugène Atget. After Atget's death, Abbott was instrumental in promoting his work by preserving his prints and negatives and arranging for publications and exhibitions of his photographs. She returned to the United States and began to photograph the architectural landscape of New York City, which resulted in the publication Changing New York. She taught at the New School for Social Research in New York from the 1930s until 1958.