Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget, and the Problem of Documentary Photography
“Photography can only represent the present. Once photographed, the subject becomes part of the past.” – Berenice Abbott
Capturing images that reflected the epic transition of New York City from a genteel, older city to a modern urban center, photographer Berenice Abbott documented the city’s changing landscape during the 1930s. The larger-than-life steel skyscrapers, juxtaposed against architecture of the past, set the scene for a culturally and visually exciting metropolis. Inspired by photographer Eugène Atget and his documentation of vieux Paris, (old Paris) Abbott looked to replicate the scope of his work in her images of New York.
Bonnie Yochelson is an independent curator and art historian. Author of Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, The Complete WPA Project (1997), Yochelson will explore how Atget’s (no ital.) photographs of Paris inspired Abbott’s epic New York project—currently on view at the Ulrich. Yochelson is completing a catalogue of Jacob Riis photography, which will accompany an exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2014.
Yochelson’s talk is in conjunction with Berenice Abbott: Changing New York, on view January 12 – April 21, 2013.