Court of First Model Tenement House in New York, 1936

by Berenice Abbott

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Artist Statement

New York City's swanky Upper East Side is not where one would expect to find low-income tenement housing today. But that's just where, in 1936, on a blustery winter day, photographer Berenice Abbott photographed the Court of the First Model Tenements (post reform), for her Changing New York project. Front and center in the image is a five-story pole, which was embedded in concrete and, with the aide from pulleys, supported laundry lines for the tenement dwellers. Clotheslines marked many an urban landscape in New York City's history, often seen as a characteristic of its working class, lower-income denizens. In this beautiful shot, the diagonal laundry lines (of which Berenice said the clothes were frozen stiff) create geometric abstractions while speaking to the intersection of the buildings' myriad cultures. Meanwhile, children huddle for warmth in the distant background (at the base of the second pole).

Details

+ Limited-edition, exclusive to 20x200
+ Museum quality: archival inks, 100% cotton rag paper unless noted
+ Certificate of authenticity signed and numbered by our head curator is included
+ Handcrafted custom-framing is available

Our quoted dimensions are for the size of paper containing the images, not the printed image itself. We do not alter the aspect ratio, nor do we crop or resize the artists’ originals. All of our prints have a minimum border of .5 inches to allow for framing.

Medium:

Innova Fibaprint Warm Cotton Gloss

Edition Structure:
10"x8" | edition of 50
14"x11" | edition of 500
20"x16" | edition of 50

Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott was an American photographer best known for her black and white photography of New York City architecture and urban design of the 1930s. Abbott was born in Springfield, Ohio. She attended the Ohio State University, but left in early 1918. Abbott went to Europe in 1921, spending two years studying sculpture in Paris and Berlin. In addition to her work in the visual arts, Abbott published poetry in the experimental literary journal transition. Abbott first became involved with photography in 1923, when Man Ray, looking for somebody who knew nothing about photography and thus would do as he... Read More
said, hired her as a darkroom assistant at his portrait studio in Montparnasse. In 1926, she had her first solo exhibition (in the gallery Au Sacre du Printemps) and started her own studio on the rue du Bac. In early 1929, Abbott visited New York and was struck by its photographic potential. She moved to the city and began work on her New York project, which she worked on independently until 1935, when she was hired by the Federal Art Project as a project supervisor for her Changing New York project. She continued to take the photographs of the city, but she had assistants to help her both in the field and in the office. This arrangement allowed Abbott to devote all her time to producing, printing and exhibiting her photographs. By the time she resigned from the FAP in 1939, she had produced 305 photographs that were then deposited at the Museum of the City of New York.
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