Berenice Abbott’s Selected Writings starts off Ivorypress Ars Litterae series, a collection of paperback books whose aim is to publish rare and out-of-print texts by lesser-known modern and contemporary artists in a format that is within the reach of a wider audience.
This publication comprises four of Abbott’s key writings on the medium: Photography and Science (1939), A Guide to Better Photography (1941), The View Camera Made Simple (1948), and The World of Atget (1964), functioning as a guide to immersing oneself in the world of photography. These texts, slightly edited to avoid potential overlaps and some highly technical chapters that may not be so interesting to contemporary readers, provide extraordinary theoretical content, precise instructions for taking a good picture and how to acquire the visual tools to do it, and invite reflection upon the difference and responsibility of owning a camera in those days versus today.
As Estrella de Diego, director of the series, explains in the introduction, ‘Now that photography has become a practice that is mostly fun and accessible to everyone, an activity that doesn’t require technique or even much skill, it is fascinating to look back upon the writings of Berenice Abbott, one of the photographers who was most committed to modernity. In fact, throughout all her life, Abbott was determined to earn her living making photos, which was very uncommon for a woman in the 1920s and 30s.’