Street Photography of New York and Paris's Ghostly Past

By Patrick Sisson / Published by Dwell
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Abbott and Marville: The City in Transition, a new photography exhibit at the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, gives viewers a privileged look at a ghostly past, showcasing photography that documents lost urban landscapes in New York and Paris. The images provide a telling look at the constant evolution of urban environments.

Berenice Abbott, a former assistant to Man Ray, captured images of New Yorkers' daily lives as part of the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Her Changing New York project was a definitive statement about Depression-era New York, giving witness to the way that 19th-century structures made way for massive skyscrapers. In a similar fashion, Parisian photographer Charles Marville captures 19th-century Paris in transition, as the ideas of urban planner George-Eugène Haussmann were transforming medieval structures into a glistening, modern metropolis.

Berenice Abbott. Bread Store, 259 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, February 3, 1937 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1937

Berenice Abbott. Bread Store, 259 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, February 3, 1937 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1937

Abbott and Marville: The City in Transition, at Howard Greenberg Gallery (41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406, New York) through April 11, coincides with an exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York entitled Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris on view January 29-May 4, 2014.

Berenice Abbott. Cedar Street from William Street, Manhattan, March 26, 1936. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1936

Berenice Abbott. Cedar Street from William Street, Manhattan, March 26, 1936. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1936

Berenice Abbott. Seventh Avenue, Looking South from 35th Street, December 5, 1935. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1935.

Berenice Abbott. Seventh Avenue, Looking South from 35th Street, December 5, 1935. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1935.

Berenice Abbott. Fifth Avenue Coach Company, New York, 1932 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1932.

Berenice Abbott. Fifth Avenue Coach Company, New York, 1932 Gelatin silver print; printed c.1932.

Berenice Abbott. Esso Gasoline Station, 10th Avenue and 29th Street, New York, December 23, 1935. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1935.

Berenice Abbott. Esso Gasoline Station, 10th Avenue and 29th Street, New York, December 23, 1935. Gelatin silver print; printed c.1935.

Charles Marville. Candelabre sur balustrade du Chemin de fer de l'Est, 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Charles Marville. Candelabre sur balustrade du Chemin de fer de l'Est, 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Charles Marville. Cul-de-sac d'Amboise de la rue du Haut-Pave, 1865-1869. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative.

Charles Marville. Cul-de-sac d'Amboise de la rue du Haut-Pave, 1865-1869. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative.

Charles Marville. Rue de Pontoise de la rue St. Victor, 1865-1869. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative.

Charles Marville. Rue de Pontoise de la rue St. Victor, 1865-1869. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative.

Charles Marville. Parc Monceau (Globe en cristal), 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Charles Marville. Parc Monceau (Globe en cristal), 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Charles Marville. Theatre du Vaudville, 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Charles Marville. Theatre du Vaudville, 1865-69. Albumen print from a wet-collodion negative; printed c.1865-69.

Patrick Sisson

@patricksisson

During the course of his career writing about music and design, Patrick Sisson has made Stefan Sagmeister late for a date and was scolded by Gil Scott-Heron for asking too many questions. His work has appeared in Pitchfork, Nothing Major, Wax Poetics, Stop Smiling and Chicago Magazine.

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