In this close-up view of a simple shopkeeper’s window in New York City, Abbott composed an image that recalls in its composition and subject matter the work of her aesthetic hero, the French documentarian Eugène Atget. The slightly oblique composition delicately balances words and images, inside and outside, past and present. August Pingpank was eighty-seven when Abbott photographed his storefront at 413 Bleecker Street. He was one of the oldest barbers in the city and lamented to the Federal Art Project workers assisting Abbott that he would soon have to retire due to the invention of the safety razor: “It’s different now with the men shaving themselves every morning at home.” The photograph is one of more than three hundred Abbott made for her landmark Depression-era project “Changing New York.”
Inscription: Inscribed in negative margin, TR: "300"; stamp in black ink on print, verso CL [sideways]: "FEDERAL ART PROJECT // "Changing New York" // PHOTOGRAPHS BY BERENICE ABBOTT" [entire text outlined in a rectangle]; stamp in black ink [details completed in pencil], CR [sideways]: "Title: Pingpank Barber Shop // Place: 413 Bleeker [sic] Street, Manhattan // Date: May 18, 1938 // Neg. # 300 // Code: III H" [entire text outlined in a rectangle]; inscribed in pencil, BC: "BAB-00025-SP"