Berenice Abbott Gallery Show at Monson Arts

MONSON — The Monson Arts Gallery, in collaboration with the Marlborough Gallery, New York, is pleased to announce its summer exhibition “Berenice Abbott’s Greenwich Village”, featuring her original vintage photographs from the 1930s and 1940s.

I’m not a nice girl. I’m a photographer,” said Berenice Abbott.

The above statement describes, in a line, one of the most creative, prolific and single-minded artists in art history. This exhibition of over 30 photographs from Marlborough’s collection includes many of the artist’s most iconic images of Greenwich Village, along with a selection of rare pictures never before published.

The exhibition will continue from July 5 through Sept. 15 with the opening reception on July 12 from noon to 7 p.m. at the Monson Arts Gallery, 8 Greenville Road. Afternoon refreshments will be served at noon. Berenice Abbott’s friend and collaborator Todd Watts will give a talk at 1 p.m., hors d’oeuvres at 5 p.m.

At the age of 19, having left her native town of Springfield, Ohio, Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) arrived in Greenwich Village in New York City in 1918. She soon found herself among the literary and artistic avant-garde. Intending to pursue journalism and sculpture, it was not until her extended sojourn in Paris, France from 1921 through 1929 that she was introduced to the medium of photography, training in the atelier of (noted artist) Man Ray. In Paris, Abbott encountered and photographed many of the modernist figures she had known during her initial stay in Greenwich Village, and other notable artists who came to Paris to pursue their art. 

“To be ‘done’ by Man Ray and Berenice Abbott meant you were rated as somebody,” said Sylvia Beach, founder of Shakespeare and Company, Paris.

Upon her return to New York in 1929, Abbott was struck by the drastic change in architecture and the rapid modernization of the city. She first set up a portrait studio, photographing prominent American businessmen for Fortune magazine, as well as the distinguished New Yorkers who ran in her social circle, hoping that the profits would allow her to devote time to her real passion of documenting the ever-shifting urban landscape. She soon started photographing Greenwich Village. In 1935, Abbott became a member of the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration, which helped fund her ongoing work. In 1939, she published her most well-known project, Changing New York, featuring 79 out of the hundreds of photographs she made throughout the five boroughs of New York City in the 1930s and 1940s.

Abbott moved from Greenwich Village to Blanchard in the 1960s, then to Monson in 1981. She lived in Monson until her death in 1991.

Monson Arts was founded in 2018. Their mission is to provide time and space for creative work through residencies, workshops, exhibitions, and educational partnerships. Visit to learn more about all of their programs.

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