Pingpank Barbershop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan

Berenice Abbott American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 852

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.”

Pingpank Barbershop, 413 Bleecker Street, Manhattan, Berenice Abbott (American, Springfield, Ohio 1898–1991 Monson, Maine), Gelatin silver print

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