Developing Boston: Berenice Abbott and Irene Shwachman Photograph a Changing City

Developing Boston: Berenice Abbott and Irene Shwachman Photograph a Changing City

Opening August 28, 2023 – December 30, 2023 in the Calderwood Gallery

From views of the Old State House to the quiet streets of Beacon Hill and the West End, this exhibition presents a reexamination of two documentary photographers who captured the development of Boston’s urban landscape in the mid-twentieth century: Berenice Abbott, a canonical modernist whose work in New England remains understudied, and Irene Shwachman, an unknown yet crucial documenter of an evolving Boston. Placing the two photographers in conversation for the first time, this exhibition will examine Abbott’s 1934 photographic portrait of Boston’s nineteenth-century vernacular buildings and Shwachman’s 1959-1968 project “The Boston Document,” which chronicled the urban renewal of the decade. The exhibition will explore the evolutions of Boston throughout the twentieth century and how a developing documentary practice, established by Abbott and amended by Shwachman, engaged with and captured the changing subject.