St. Marks Church, front and side, 1937


Silver print

25.4 x 20.2 cm (10 x 7 15/16 in.)

A truncated steeple rises above bare treetops and the geometrical volumes of a church in St. Mark’s Church, Front and Side, 1937. The grey winter sky and low-angle shot give it an almost disturbing dimension.

Despite its subject’s apparent banality, the shot acquires an aesthetic and programmatic value by being part of an ambitious project: "Changing New York" by Berenice Abbott. From 1935 to 1939, she documented the changes transforming the burgeoning city. Wanting her work "to be documentary as well as artistic", she rejected quaintness in favour of the exhaustive, photographing the façades of old and new buildings without distinction.

The photograph St. Mark’s Church, Front and Side, 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