Berenice Abbott had three distinct periods of work. In the twenties in Paris, she made incisive portraits of the intellectuals, artists, and notable characters who then populated Paris. She returned to the United States in 1929 and began a decade-long project titled Changing New York, which was partially funded by the Federal Art Project to document the buildings being destroyed to make room for New York’s new skyscrapers. In 1958 she began to photograph scientific phenomena for the Physical Sciences Study Committee at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Abbott’s Nightview, New York captures thousands of skyscraper office lights illuminating the darkness of midtown Manhattan as viewed from the Empire State Building.

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Berenice Abbott, American, 1898–1991
Nightview, New York
1932, printed c. 1980
Gelatin silver print
Image: 13 5/8 × 10 5/8 in. (34.5 × 26.9 cm) Sheet: 13 5/8 × 10 5/8 in. (34.6 × 27 cm) Mount: 20 × 16 in. (50.8 × 40.6 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of Mike and Mickey Marvins

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

[John Cleary Gallery, Houston; purchased by Michael Marvins and Michele Marvins, Houston, February 4, 1991; given to MFAH, 2012.