Friday, 11 September 2009

The Friday Picture(s)

Berenice Abbott, pictured above, (b.1898 d. 1991) was an American avante garde photographer who focussed much of her work on photographing the changing landscape of New York. Abbott left Ohio University for the city in 1918 sharing an apartment with philosophers and writers in Greenwich Village. She pursued writing, jounalism, and the theatre before deciding to study culpture in Paris and Berlin. She became interested in photography when she was hired by Man Ray to be a dark room assitant in his Paris studio. Man Ray soon spotted her talent, alowing her to use his studio and his gallery to promote her own photography career. In 1929 Abbott visited New York and at once saw the photographic potential of the city.

Using a large format camera Abbott set out to document the ever changing landscape of New York, capturing the interaction between the diversity of the cities inhabitants, the stage upon which they existed and their daily activites upon that stage. She aimed to empower people by forcing them to realise that their environment was a product of their collective behaviour (and of course vice versa).

"Let us first say what photography is not. A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality. It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term - selectivity" (Berenice Abbott)

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