35 Items in this Learning Collection
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Trinity Church

Accession Number

Trinity Church

Berenice Abbott

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

9 15/16 in x 8 1/16 in (25.24 cm x 20.48 cm);14 5/16 in x 19 7/16 in (36.35 cm x 49.37 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Harry H. Lunn Jr.

Label copy
An early example of the Gothic revival style in American architecture, Trinity Church, designed by Richard Upjohn, was completed in 1846. Although the tallest building in New York at the time it was built, Trinity Church in Abbott’s image is shown engulfed by the surrounding skyscrapers. Abbott photographed Trinity Church and its graveyard a number of times. In this image her ingenious composition angles the bright shed roof of the nave and dark spire against the “negative space” of Wall Street receding between the buildings in the distance, thus flattening space as she looks down from her lofty vantage. The arrangement of the windows of the two office buildings sets up an insistent pattern that is echoed in the light and dark headstones in the graveyard flanking the church.
Carole McNamara, Assistant Director for Collections & Exhibitions
on the occasion of the exhibition New York Observed: The Mythology of the City
(July 13 – September 22, 2003)
"Visually this is the most interesting cemetery in the world,” Abbott remarked. “It is simply remarkable. Stuck in there with all those skyscrapers, it is absolutely mad. I always wanted to do a little book on this cemetery and I photographed many tombstones for the project, but the negatives were lost.”

Subject matter
Berenice Abbott's unusual viewpoint, seeming to hover slightly above and behind Trinity Church, positions the spire of the building perfectly in between the slim gap that separates the two large skyscraper buildings in front of it. The roof of the church, depicted in full daylight, provides a counterpoint to the dark arm of the spire. The slight oblique angle of the perspective renders the spire lurching towards the left and tips the numerous pedestrians below towards the foreground of the image, suggesting something of the frenzy of modern life.

Physical Description
Elevated view down on a spire of a church in front of two tall office buildings.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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Dante Alighieri
churches (institutions)
documentary photography
historical figures
modern and contemporary art
office buildings

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& Author Notes

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