Commerce Street 39-41, Manhattan, 1937


Silver print

25.2 x 20.2 cm (9 15/16 x 7 15/16 in.)

The dichotomy between shadow and light stresses the two-dimensionality of two façades on a house at a corner of Commerce Street in Manhattan. The slightly slanting roofline gives the composition a disturbing strangeness.

This print is part of the vast photography project Changing New York that Berenice Abbott tirelessly worked on between 1935 and 1939 with funding from the Federal Art Project set up by Roosevelt. Her aim was to draw a portrait of the burgeoning American metropolis with the demanding lens of her camera. Influenced by Eugène Atget, the project includes thousands of shots with vernacular aesthetics. No urban motif, not even the plainest house, was left out.

Commerce Street 39-41, Manhattan, 1937 was first presented by the Pinault Collection at the 2019 "Luogo e Segni" (“Place and Signs”) show at the Punta della Dogana in Venice.

Berenice Abbott's other artwork