She was born Bernice Abbott and was a well-known American photographer. She was known for her black-and-white photos of 1930s New York City architecture and city planning. After studying in Ohio, she moved to New York City to study sculpture. There, she met many modernist visionaries, including Man Ray. In the early 1920s, Abbott began to learn about photography with the help of Man Ray, who she worked with as a photographer’s assistant. While she was working with him, she saw the photos of Eugene Atgel, whose work has a big impact on her own. Soon after that, she opened her own portrait studio in Paris, where she took pictures of artists and writers who lived there at the time. Abbott and fellow American photographer Paul Strand set up the “Photo League” in 1936. After that, she became a teacher at the New York school for social research, where she worked until 1958. In 1937, Abbot’s pictures of New York were shown at the Museum of the City in an exhibit called “Changing New York.” In the late 1950s, she started taking pictures that showed how the laws of physics worked. Her work changed the way documentary photography was done, and she kept doing it until she died in 1991.
Childhood and Adolescence
She was born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, by her divorced mother. She was the youngest of four children, two of whom were boys and two of whom were girls.
After her second divorce, her mother began relocating her family to Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland on a regular basis.
Her sister married young to move away from home, but the marriage did not work out owing to disputes.
She attended Cleveland’s Lincoln high school after finishing elementary school, where she studied college preparatory courses. She graduated from high school in 1917, just months before the United States entered World War I.
She enrolled in a journalism course at Ohio State University in Columbus in February 1917. However, she had to drop the course since the literature professor who had been teaching her and the other students had been fired because he was German.
She came to Greenwich Village, New York, with her college companions in 1918, when she was adopted by anarchist Hippolyte Havel. She lived in an apartment with a group of writers, philosophers, and literary critics.
As a result of her interactions with artists such as Eugene O’ Neil, Man Ray, and Sadakichi Hartmann, she rapidly lost interest in journalism and became interested in theater and sculpture. She even started volunteering at the Provincetown Playhouse.
Berenice Abbott’s Career
She moved to Europe in 1921. She also published poetry in the experimental literary journal ‘Transition’, in addition to her visual arts work. Djuna Barnes recommended that she change the spelling of her first name to ‘Berenice’ at this time.
Man Ray introduced her to photography in 1923 when he recruited her as a darkroom assistant at his Montparnasse portrait studio. She worked for him in Paris for four years, where she found her photographic skill.
In 1929, she went to New York and switched from portrait photography to documentary photography, focusing on the metropolis. The following year, she embarked on a project to document New York’s development into a modern metropolis.
She relocated to Greenwich Village in 1935 and lived with art critic Elizabeth Mc Causland until her death. Abbott received assistance from Causland in a variety of ways, from submitting articles on her photography to encouraging her during difficult times.
‘Berenice Abbott: Sixty Years of Photography,’ published by Thames & Hudson in London and McGraw Hill in New York, was one of the numerous anthologies of her photography published between 1988 and 1990.
Berenice’s Major Projects
Her first solo exhibition, Le Sacre du Printemps, in a Parisian gallery in 1926, featured her portrait photography, in which she caught figures associated with art movements. Portraits of novelist James Joyce, artist Marx Ernst, and poet Edna St. Vincent Millay were exhibited, and she opened her own studio on rue du Bac the following year.
She returned to Paris in 1928 after a brief study of photography in Berlin. On rue Servandoni, she opened a second studio.
As part of a Federal Works Project Administration effort, she created a series of documentary photographs of New York City from 1935 until 1939. At the conclusion of the project, she published her images in a book named ‘Changing New York.’
She joined ‘Science Illustrated’ as a picture editor in 1940. She used scientific imagery as part of her subject matter and worked with it for the next two decades. She also founded the ‘House of Photography’ to promote and sell several of her innovations, such as a distortion easel and an auto pole, during this time.
She went to Maine in 1966 to pursue her career as a science photographer, and her photography reflected the advancement of technology. After two years, she released her final book, ‘A Portrait of Maine,’ which featured images of the natural landscape and rural life.
Achievements and Awards
She was awarded the ‘Deutscher fotobuchpreis,’ a German picture book prize, for her outstanding achievements in the field of visual-led book publishing, which began in Germany.
For her black-and-white photographs of 1930s New York City architecture and urban planning, she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1991.
‘Under the El at the Battery,’ ‘Night view,’ and ‘Portrait of James Joyce’ are some of her most well-known images.
Estimated Net worth
The estimated Net Worth has $3 Million.