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Berenice Abbott Photographs
These are re-strikes of photographs from the collection of the New York Public Library. They are from an essay "Changing New York", photographed in 1935 to 1939. In the winter of 1968-69, I lived with Berenice Abbott in Blanchard, Maine. I went there to make prints for her two exhbits; at the MOMA, and the Smithsonian. She only began to make a living from her print sales after those two shows. I don't take credit for that, but my contribution didnÕt hurt her reputation. I worked under her close supervision, and she turned me into a master printer, she being, arguably, the greatest silver print maker of the century. ThatÕs heady company, with Paul Strand, Adams, and many more excellent printers. I know her work intimately, and am a great admirer. We were friends until her death. I have her portrait of Atget on my wall. IÕm somewhat of an expert at restoring photographs, having restored the most important photograph in Canadian history, the Fathers of Confederation. I believe that historic photographs should be restored to the standard of the time in which they were made, rather than allowing them to be seen as flawed, which they were not. Berenice was not just a documentary photographer, but an accomplished artist. Working with her, I learned how much she controlled the expression in her prints. The expression was very important to her, although she would say that it was always the subject, and expression looks after itself. Keep in mind that her presentation of the subject was from her own vast experience of photography, art, and life, all filtered through her mind and heart. This is not generally known. She knew that every photograph was an abstract, surrealist object. She lived among surrealist artists in Paris. May Ray was a surrealist, and Berenice knew she did not want to imitate him. He was much more into himself than Berenice was into herself. She was grounded in the reality of what photography was all about. When she saw AtgetÕs work, there was a Òflash of recognitionÓ. She recognized that Atget knew the photograph was an abstract surrealist object, for him, related to the scenes he loved in Paris. Many thought Atget was a ÒprimitifÓ. John Szarkowski disproved that! These prints are offered in a form that is as true as possible to her vision.