NONFICTION

Berenice Abbott: A Life in Photography

Norton. Apr. 2018. 640p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780393292787. $49.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393292794. BIOG
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Photography curator Van Haaften's biography of Berenice Abbott (1898–1991) rightly positions her as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. Raised by a single mother, Abbot experienced an unhappy childhood. She moved to New York City to study sculpture and was drawn to the subcultures and bohemian literary figures of Greenwich Village. Living in Paris, she discovered photography and worked as Man Ray's assistant; she also met the documentary photographer Eugène Atget shortly before his death in 1925 and spent the next several years promoting his work. Abbott returned to New York and began a long-term documentary project on Manhattan, culminating in 1939's Changing New York. Van Haaften spent several years interviewing Abbott in her Maine home; the result is an intimate view of Abbott's approach to photography as well as her personal life, including her 30-year relationship with art critic Elizabeth McCausland.
VERDICT For photography, art history, and women's studies enthusiasts. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/1/18.]

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