ON THE ROAD, THEN AND NOW
In 1954, photographer Berenice Abbott chronicled her road trip along the American East Coast with no-frills but distinctively evocative pictures.
Up until then, Abbott was best-known for her portraits of 20th-century cultural figures, as well as her shots of New York City architecture. The road trip images, all shot in black and white, presented a different aspect of her work, reflecting the regional diversity of the Eastern seaboard, as Abbott captured activities like peach packing, dancing and alligator wrestling, as well as people like potato and tobacco farmers.
The Wolfsonian-FIU museum in Miami Beach is celebrating Abbott’s 1954 photographs with “North and South: Berenice Abbott’s US Route 1,” an exhibit that highlights 50 images selected from Abbott’s road trip series. What sets this show apart is that it’s held in conjunction with “The Long Road to Now,” a second exhibit that displays, for the first time ever, contemporary works inspired by Abbott’s iconic images. Co-curated by the Wolfsonian-FIU and Instagram forum #JJ Community, “The Long Road to Now” features the work of 15 Instagrammers, who were able to successfully merge art with a documentarian impulse.
Social media followers were asked to submit images centered around three themes that pervaded Abbott’s 1954 works: “Road Trip,” “Signage” and “Classic.” The 15 winning shots – selected from over 7,000 submissions from places as varied as Lisbon, Paris, Yekaterinburg, Milan, Chicago and New York – best reinvented Abbott’s stylistic lens, by bringing her legacy into the 21st century with a high dose of adventurous exploration. On show at the Wolfsonian-FIU, these winning images range from nighttime car window snapshots, mirror reflections and views of famed landmarks to candid shots and majestic landscapes.
Until October 8, www.wolfsonian.org