New York Stock Exchange


Black and white photo of the New York stock exchange.

Berenice Abbott
b. 1898 Springfield, OH; d. 1991 Monson, ME
New York Stock Exchange, 1933
Selenium-toned gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
Accession date: 2005
Gift of Mr. Isadore Friedman
Copyright the artist's estate

Berenice Abbott’s photographs of New York City from the 1930s serve as vital documentation of a burgeoning city in the midst of transformation. At this time, much of “old” New York was being torn down to make way for a modern metropolis filled with new buildings and skyscrapers. These images of notable landmarks, brownstones and bridges throughout the five boroughs (avoiding tourist attractions, such as Central Park) were executed in a straightforward style and printed in large format. While straightforward, hers was also a dynamic, style of strong contrasts and dramatic angles. She aptly titled her endeavor Changing New York, which was published in book form and includes New York Stock Exchange as one of the 305 images. This endeavor was a difficult undertaking given that it was during the Great Depression and funding was scarce. Half-way through her project, Abbott received support from the Federal Art Project, and toward the end from the Museum of the City of New York, which allowed her to achieve one of the monumental photographic documentations of the 20th century.

Abbott moved to Paris in 1921 to study sculpture, but learned photography as the studio assistant to Surrealist artist Man Ray. She opened her own studio and had a thriving business photographing Paris’ artists and intellectuals, including Eugène Atget, Jean Cocteau, Peggy Guggenheim and James Joyce. After Atget’s death, Abbott purchased his entire collection of 1,000 glass negatives and 7,000 prints to promote and preserve his work. In 1929 she returned to New York and was captivated by the city and remained in her home country until her death at 93. In addition to her photographing the city, Abbott taught at the New School for Social Research from the 1930s to1958, wrote “how-to” books on photography and documented the Eastern seaboard from Maine to Florida.