Mulligan Place, Manhattan, 1936


Silver print

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

The frame’s subtle ambiguity makes it hard to tell whether the tree or the man in the long overcoat in the background is the true subject of Mulligan Place, Manhattan, 1936. Both are in the centre and bathed in the same natural light flooding the corner of a small Manhattan square.

This photograph is one of thousands in the immense "Changing New York" project, which Abbott tirelessly worked on from 1935 to 1939. Her goal was to draw a social and artistic portrait of the burgeoning, fast-changing American metropolis. At first glance, the project looks like a simple archive. But with each shot, Abbott sought to break out of the documentary mould to achieve an autonomous aesthetic value.

Mulligan Place, Manhattan, 1936 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