Berenice Abbott - Photographs New York Tuesday, October 2, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist

  • Literature

    Commerce Graphics, Ltd., Berenice Abbott, frontispiece
    Haworth-Booth, The Folio Society Book of the 100 Greatest Photographs, p. 125
    Photo Poche, Berenice Abbott, pl. 20
    The New York Public Library, Berenice Abbott: A Modern Vision, pl. 9 there titled New York at Night. Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, West Side, 34th and 35th Streets (General View North), Manhattan
    Steidl, Berenice Abbott: Volume II, cover, frontispiece and p. 35

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1929, after establishing a reputation in Paris as a studio portrait photographer, Berenice Abbott moved back to New York, intent on succeeding in the city that she had briefly lived in 11 years prior. Strongly influenced by Eugène Atget’s haunting images of Parisian streets, Abbott turned her lens to New York City: its people and the architecture of its vastly developing skyline. Capturing the historical alongside the modern, her photographs remain some of the most defining images of New York in the early 20th-century, perhaps none more so than New York at Night, 1932.

    Taken from atop the Empire State building in the winter, New York at Night stands as an icon of the modern city. Whereas many of Abbott’s images have a clearly documentary feel, here she abandons the streetlevel perspective for an aerial, all encompassing view of the city as few could see it. Demonstrating her mastery of the medium, she shot with an extended exposure which, with the resulting blurred cars and lights, injects movement and the pulse of city life into the scene. With the skyscrapers extending beyond the frame of the image, Abbott captures the growth and vitality of the expanding city, a New York not of the past but of the future.


New York at Night

Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1940.
13 5/8 x 11 in. (34.6 x 27.9 cm)
Signed in pencil on the overmat; titled ‘New York’, dated ‘circa 1934’ in pencil and ‘50 Commerce Street’ credit stamp on the verso.

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $35,000

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs
+ 1 212 940 1245


2 October 2012
New York