Jan 12, 2007

Columbus Circle

Columbus Circle


Berenice Abbott

(American, 1898–1991)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 24.6 x 19.6 cm (9 11/16 x 7 11/16 in.); Paper: 25.3 x 20.3 cm (9 15/16 x 8 in.); Matted: 45.7 x 35.6 cm (18 x 14 in.)

Sundry Purchase Fund 1980.33



A native of Springfield, Ohio, Abbott studied art and photography in Paris. Arriving in New York in 1929, she was shocked by the past decade’s vertical building boom, and dedicated herself to documenting the city’s new structures and fast-disappearing historic ones. She made this image from the ninth floor of the General Motors building in New York while working for the Federal Art Project, a governmental agency that employed artists during the Depression. The statue of Columbus, at center, is dwarfed by two advertising signs: one for Schenley rye whiskey and a landmark 80-x-50-foot display for Coca-Cola that required 3,000 incandescent bulbs.

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Sundry Purchase Fund

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