Famous for her tireless fight for the recognition of French photographer Eugene Atget, the American photographer Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) is also prominently known for her documentary project Changing New York (1935-1939). The exhibition Berenice Abbott (1898-1991): Photographs presented at the Jeu de Paume and by the Ryerson Image Centre at the Art Gallery of Ontario explores the different stages of Abbott's expansive career through more than one hundred and twenty photographs. In order to provide a larger context for her oeuvre, the exhibition will show her photographic prints alongside a series of never-before-exhibited personal documents (letters, book mock-ups, drawings, magazines, scrapbooks) and a collection of first edition books.
To accompany this retrospective, the catalogue focuses on four significant phases of the artist's output: Abbott's modernist portraiture of the 1920s, which grew out of her life at the centre of bohemian, artistic and intellectual circles in Paris and New York; her urban and architectural documentation of New York during the devastating economic crisis of the 1930s, which culminated in the book Changing New York; and Abbott's rarely seen, yet riveting photographic experiments, created in the 1950s, while employed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, a period of Cold War politics and increased emphasis on scientific research in the United States. Last but not least, the exhibition and the catalogue also offer a unique selection of her photographs taken along Route 1 with the ambition to represent the whole 'American scene'. Each essay is richly illustrated with photographs and historical artefacts.
Contributors: Marta Gili, Doina Popescu, Gaelle Morel, Sarah M. Miller, and Terri Weissman
Ryerson Image Centre, 2012