"A DISTINCTIVE INTERPRETATION AS WELL AS A PRICELESS DOCUMENT": FIRST EDITION OF CHANGING NEW YORK, INSCRIBED BY BERENICE ABBOTT
ABBOTT, Berenice. Changing New York. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1939. Quarto, original blue cloth, original photographic dust jacket. $9000.
First edition of Abbott's landmark photo-essay on New York City, inscribed by Abbott, "For J— and E— with warmest regards Berenice Abbott Blanchard Maine August '67," featuring 97 brilliant halftone plates that display "the historical importance of the documentary mode… its power as a medium of personal expression" (Parr & Badger).
After spending the better part of the Twenties in Paris photographing such literary celebrities as James Joyce, Jean Cocteau and Andre Gide, Abbott returned to New York with the intention "to do in Manhattan what Atget did in Paris." Abbott captured the city "with a straightforward style that nodded toward 19th-century classicism while signaling a new sort of stripped-down modernism" (Roth, 100). "Changing New York not only fulfills Abbott's criterion for the historical importance of the documentary mode, but also demonstrates its power as a medium of personal expression" (Parr & Badger I:141), providing "a distinctive interpretation of New York as well as a priceless document thereof" (Icons of Photography, 104). "First Edition" stated on copyright page; first issue with blue topstain. Text by Elizabeth McCausland. With dust jacket based on a design by Abbott that shows her name superimposed on a brick wall from her photograph, "Construction Old and New": "one of three images that had been removed from the book just before publication" (Bonnie Yochelson). Open Book, 130.
Images fine, faint foxing to preliminaries, lightest edge-wear to cloth, expert restoration to scarce dust jacket. An extremely good inscribed copy.