Although Abbott began her career as a sculptor, she turned her focus to photography in 1923, when she became Man Ray’s darkroom assistant in Paris. Two years later she opened her own studio, where she gained fame for her straightforward and penetrating portraits of some of the most influential cultural figures of the 1920s.
It was through Man Ray that she met the little known documentary photographer Eugène Atget, whom she photographed shortly before his death. His imagery had a tremendous influence on her objective approach to the medium; it was Atget’s views of Paris that inspired Abbott to photograph the changing landscape of New York City. Part of Atget’s appeal for the avant-garde artists was the freshness of his “untrained” eye, his simple lifestyle, and his single-minded devotion to his craft.
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art’s collection includes this complete unpublished portfolio (Eskenazi Museum of Art 76.128.5A–.5T).
Eugène Atget, from the unpublished portfolio Abbott
1927 (printed mid-1950s)
Gelatin silver print
Image/sheet: 9 ½ x 7 1/2 in. (24.1 x 19.1 cm); mount 12 15/16 x 10 in. (32.9 x 25.4 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, 76.128.5A
Large image not available.