By Johna Till Johnson
Photographs by Berenice Abbott
It was one of those Facebook memes that occasionally goes around. “Let’s fill Facebook with art! Like if you want to participate, and I’ll give you an artist to post on your Facebook page.”
The poster, David, is a longtime friend with wide-ranging artistic interests and great taste, so I signed up. Besides, we can all use a little art in the dark days of February, right?
David assigned me Berenice Abbott. I’d never heard of her—though even a photography newbie like me immediately recognized some of her iconic NYC photographs. I spent a delighted evening reviewing her life and work and reading her brief Wikipedia biography. If you haven’t heard of her, I encourage you to do so, too–she was one of the great 20th-century artists of the “realist” school. Her quote about photography helping people to see resonates very strongly with me right now, as I work to develop my eye.
A delightful discovery: She developed several cutting-edge techniques for scientific photography, and in fact illustrated a 1958 high school physics textbook (an article about which appeared in Forbes Magazine recently).