American photographer. She spent a term at the Ohio State University in
Columbus (1917–18) and then studied sculpture independently in New York
(1918–21) where she met Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. She left the USA for
Paris in 1921 where she studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière
before attending the Kunstschule in Berlin for less than a year in 1923.
From 1924 to 1926 she worked as Man Ray’s assistant and first saw
photographs by Eugène Atget in Man Ray’s studio in 1925. Her first one-woman
show, at the gallery Le Sacre du Printemps in Paris in 1926, was devoted to
portraits of avant-garde personalities such as Jean Cocteau, James Joyce and
André Gide. She continued to take portraits until leaving Paris in 1929,
such as that of James Joyce (1927; see Berenice Abbott:
Photographs, p. 26). After Atget’s death (1927) she bought most of his
negatives and prints in 1928, and in 1929 she returned to New York. There
she began a series of documentary photographs of the city and from 1935 to
1939 directed the ‘Changing New York’ project for the Works Progress
Administration Federal Art Project, which resulted in the book of
photographs Changing New York (1939). Like Atget’s views of Paris
these covered both the people and architecture of New York in a methodical
and detached way. The images in Greenwich Village Today and Yesterday
(1949) were motivated by a similar spirit. She also took various portrait
photographs in the 1930s and 1940s, such as that of Max Ernst (1941).
1928 James Joyce
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