Berenice Abbott, Flatiron Building, 1938 © Berenice Abbott / Commerce Graphics, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NY


Berenice Abbott – Photographs

Exhibition: July 1 – October 3, 2016
Curated by Anne Morin (diChroma photography, Madrid)
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 10-19h, Tuesday closed
The box office closes at 18:30h.
Admission: 7 € / reduced 5 € (Online Ticket)


Photography doesn’t teach you how to express your emotions.
It teaches you how to see”
Berenice Abbott

Berenice Abbott (1898-1991) is one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. She spent six decades taking pictures. The Martin-Gropius-Bau is now dedicating an exhibition featuring about 80 pictures to her. Her famous and iconic pictures from the Changing New York series, early portraits and her pioneering work as a scientific photographer will be shown.

Berenice Abbott came to fame after releasing her “Changing New York” collection of photographs, which was produced between 1929 and 1939. The series of images documents New York in times of change and not only features a combination of Victorian architecture and cowboy saloons, but also modern elements such as skyscrapers reaching high into the clouds and the first large billboards. Abbott took her camera through the city, photographing it street after street. In doing so, she took a similar approach to her great role model Eugène Atget, who took photographs of old Paris at the turn of the century and whom Abbott got to know and respect in the 1920s when she emigrated to Paris from New York. She went on to acquire his archive in order to publish his photographs.

Berenice Abbott worked as Man Ray’s assistant for three years and it was his recommendation that led her to start taking photographs herself. Alongside her work as a documentary photographer, she also worked as a science photographer and a portraitist of well-known artists and authors, producing portrait photos of figures such as Edward Hopper, James Joyce, Jean Cocteau, Sylvia Beach and Djuna Barnes.

Read more about the exhibition


An exhibition catalogue has been published by Steidl Verlag:
Berenice Abbott – Topographien
Hardcover, 23 x 30 cm
104 pages, 70 illustrations
Trade edition: € 15
Museum edition: € 12
ISBN 978-3-95829-245-1

Education programme

New York, New York. This was the city that Berenice Abbott systematically used to photograph, during the mid-thirties, between the high point of the depression and the outbreak of the Second World War. She is fascinated by the city, which is about to change: on one side the old fashioned horse coaches, on the other side express trains and chunky limousines. There are still house facades of Victorian heritage, but also the plain, transparent exteriors of the skyscrapers; the 19th century versus the modern time. The future seemed to be covering the past, block by block. Berenice Abbott photographs block by block.

She was not even a New Yorker. She was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1989. At the age of twenty, she moved to New York City for her studies, where she stayed for three years, before moving to Paris in 1921.

In 1928 she visits New York for what should have been a short trip and is amazed by how the city is changing. She then starts her mammoth project and records the metropolis at Hudson River with often unexpectedly chosen picture frames: sometimes there are thick converging verticals of the buildings in Wall Street, other times extreme diagonally views like the ones of the Flatiron Building or the comparison between a focused Penthouse-Terrace and an unfocused, softly sketched city silhouette in the background. She calls this series Changing New York, which is published in a book in 1939.

Abbott begins taking pictures of scientific experiments for physic books. She captures images of phenomena like the gravitational force or electricity. Her photographs are accurate documentations and exceptionally elegant abstract compositions.

For school classes

Workshops – Discover New York
Guided tour for students in easy English language

Excursion day and learning English? Discovering New York whilst doing so? This is the combination that we offer. We want to support you and your students in the process of learning English and we offer guided tours through the exhibition “Berenice Abbott – Photographs”, in easy English language.

The first ten tours are for free. After that, tickets will be sold for 55 Euro per class. Registration is required. Duration: 60 minutes.
The accompanying education program is funded by the Embassy of the United States of America.


Storyteller: camera

No other media is more appropriate to capture the environment than photography. Through photography we perceive the world with different eyes and we learn to observe precisely. With the camera we discover the Martin-Gropius-Bau inside and out, and through the lens we come closer to the topic of architecture. What makes a good architecture photograph? What part does light and shadows play? Which spatial effect could occur? While using the camera we learn to know the Martin-Gropius-Bau, and through photographs we tell stories about the history of the building.

Workshops for classes: date on arrangement / max. 30 students Public family workshop: Sunday, 28.8., 25.9.2016, 1 – 3 p.m. No charge, registration is recommended (limited number of participants)


Photo experiment: soap bubble

You surely know soap bubbles – these transparent-shimmering spheres that float through the air, they are fragile and could pop at any moment. They are our motif. The task is tricky, but the result could be breathtaking.

Workshops for classes: date on arrangement / max. 30 students Public family workshop: Sunday, 11.9., 3.10.2016, 1-3 p.m. No charge, registration is recommended (limited number of participants)

For Families

It’s Sunday again…

Every Sunday from 1 – 3 p.m. during the exhibition period, we invite families to explore the exhibition together and express their creative ideas. Registration recommended, limited number of participants, free of charge. Topics of the workshops on the internet at: (only German)

For the working people

The creative kick during lunch break
Lunch tours through the exhibition

The exhibition hall offers a programme that makes the lunch break a creative kick. Every first Wednesday of the month, we present artists and exhibition concepts during a 40 minutes tour. Afterwards there is time for lunch at the restaurant Gropius.

Wednesdays 1 p.m., 6 July, 3 August, 7 September 2016
Duration ca. 40 min.

Booking of workshops and lunch tours
MuseumsInformation Berlin
T +49 30 24749 888
F +49 30 24749 883

Part of the EMOP Berlin 2016 – European Month of Photography Berlin 2016. Discover more Festival highlights on PiB under the tag #EMOP Berlin 2016!

Teil des EMOP Berlin 2016 – Europäischer Monat der Fotografie Berlin 2016. Entdecke weitere Festival-Highlights auf FiB unter dem Tag #EMOP Berlin 2016!

Event Details

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