December 16, 2023–June 16, 2024
See selections from Berenice Abbott’s monumental photography project Changing New York that capture the rapid transformation of New York City in the 1930s. When American-born Abbott (1898–1991) returned to the United States in 1929 after an eight-year sojourn in Europe, she observed her home with a fresh appreciation and a conviction to capture what she called “the spirit of the metropolis.” As she wrote of Manhattan, “The sweep of one’s vision can take in the dramatic contrasts of the old and new and the bold foreshadowing of the future.”
Abbott’s Changing New York series includes over three hundred black-and-white photographs featuring a range of subjects—modern skyscrapers, as well as harbors, highways, city squares, neighborhoods, storefronts, and hand-painted signs—that capture the essence of a specific time and place. The artist’s steadfast vision for this unprecedented undertaking was funded by the Federal Art Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression, with selections later published in a book to coincide with the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Abbott’s photographs changed the course of photography in the twentieth century and are a reminder of the excitement and joy ignited when seeing the world anew.
Featured at top right: Berenice Abbott, Metropolitan Life Building, New York (detail), ca. 1935. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Cam and Wanda Garner, 2020.340. © Berenice Abbott/Getty Images, Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.