by Berenice Abbott, edited by Ron Kurtz and Hank O’Neal
Berenice Abbott had starved in New York and was starving in Paris when Man Ray hired her for his darkroom. It was Abbott’s idea. He had complained about his latest “know-it-all” studio assistant, and Abbott jumped in: “What about me? I don’t know a thing.” Her rapid learning surprised them both. “I liked photography. Photography liked me,” she recalled. Eventually Ray suggested that she take some portraits with his camera during lunch and after work. Starting with her friends, a glittering roster of Jazz Age Paris sat for Abbott, including Sylvia Beach, Jean Cocteau, Djuna Barnes and her lover Thelma Wood (Abbott’s ex), André Gide, Buddy Gilmore, Max Ernst, Marie Laurencin, and Janet Flanner.