About This Artwork

Berenice Abbott
American, 1898–1991

Chicken Market, 55 Hester Street, Manhattan, February 11, 1937

Gelatin silver print
48.4 x 38.2 cm (image/paper)
Unmarked recto; stamped and inscribed verso, center, pink ink and graphite: "FEDERAL ART PROJECT / "Changing New York" / PHOTOGRAPHS BY BERENICE ABBOTT [in rectangle/slightly obscured by brown paper] / Title: [stamped in pink ink] Chicken Market [inscribed in graphite] / Place: [stamped in pink ink] 55 Hester Street, Manhattan [inscribed in graphite] / Angle of View: / Date: [stamped in pink ink] [illegible/obscured by brown paper] 11, 1937 [inscribed in graphite] / Neg. # [stamped in pink ink] [illegible/pbscured by brown paper] Code: [stamped in pink ink] II. C. 1. / III. A. 2. [?] [inscribed in graphite]"; inscribed and signed verso, lower left, in graphite: "Chicken Market / 55 Hester St. N.Y.C. / Berenice Abbott"

The Art Institute of Chicago, Works Progress Administration Allocation, 1943.1407

Berenice Abbott’s Changing New York project, an ambitious attempt to record the rapid mutations of modern-day New York, found great support in the galleries and museums of the city. In 1930, at the beginning of her research, Abbott showed her photographs at the Museum of Modern Art, a success followed by one-person exhibitions at the Julien Levy Gallery in 1932 and the Museum of the City of New York in 1934. Abbott also received funding from the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Arts Project, as noted in this photograph’s credit line. Her application to the WPA addressed New York’s fast tempo and emphasized “the vanishing instant,” yet Abbott’s studiously detailed compositions, prepared with a large-format camera and tripod, do not reflect this sense of rapidity. Abbott hoped her images would ultimately be valued as “memorials of the metropolis.”

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Seldom Seen Photographs from the Permanent Collection," June 5, 1976-August 15, 1976.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Photography on Display: Modern Treasure," May 9–September 13, 2009.

Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, "Max Kozloff: Critic and Photographer," October 5, 2013–January 5, 2014. (Michal Raz-Russo)

Interpretive Resources

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