About This Artwork

Berenice Abbott
American, 1898–1991

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

Gelatin silver print
19 1/8 x 15 1/8 in.

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

AIC, "Photography on Display: Modern Treasure," May 9–September 13, 2009.

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

Publication History

Abbott, Bernice. 1939. "Changing New York." E.P. Dutton & Company, Inc. p. 73.

Abbott, Bernice. 1970. "Photographs." Foreward by Muriel Rukeyser, introduction by David Vestal. Horizon Press, p.95. (other print of this image)




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