Powers and Olive Streets, Brooklyn, 1937


Silver print

18.7 x 24.4 cm (7 3/8 x 9 5/8 in.)

An Afro-American mother and her two children stand out between two vacant lots near dustbins on a street slanting towards the horizon. Despite their small scale, their poses and looks draw the viewer’s gaze into a cityscape that betrays a certain poverty.

American photographer Berenice Abbott shot Powers and Olive Streets, Brooklyn, 1937 for her ambitious project "Changing New York" (1935-1939). She aimed to create the most objective and comprehensive social portrait possible of burgeoning New York. She ventured into the city’s poorest areas, like Brooklyn at the time, to include all segments of the population and their homes. Documentary and artistic at the same time, her endeavour has a strong social dimension.

Powers and Olive Streets, Brooklyn, 1937 was presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection at the "Luogo e Segni" ("Place and Signs") exhibition at the Punta della Dogana in Venice in 2019.

Berenice Abbott's other artwork