Michael Abramson

Michael L Abramson was born in New Jersey in 1948, the late American photographer graduated with Master of Photography from Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1977. His work was regularly featured in Time, New York Times, Newsweek, People, Forbes, Harpers, Wall Street Journal and other popular American and international magazines.
He was a highly sought after commercial portrait photographer and photojournalist. His subjects comprised celebrities, prominent stars from sport, politics and the entertainment industry included Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Steven Spielberg, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and many more.

Yet it was his 1970s series documenting the Chicago South side club scene that made Abramson’s name. Influenced by Brassaï’s photographs of the 1920s Paris, Abramson caught the stylish nightlife of the funk and soul era in full, alluring swing.

His work was exhibited frequently since 1978, including a solo show at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, in 2014 and in the same year the group show on American Photography since 1950 at Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts (US).

Many of Abramson’s south side prints were published in a photography book/ 2 LP record set entitled Light on the South Side (2009), by Chicago music recording company Numero Group

Following Abramson’s death in 2011 a new book entitled Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust From Chicago’s South Side was released by Chicago-based Chicago City Files Press (2015).

His photographs are in major collections including the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the California Museum of Photography and various private collections.


2018, Unbound7! (8/2-8/4) Candela Gallery / Richmond, VA [Group Show]
Light on the South Side  (8/2-9/2) Blue Sky Gallery / Portland, OR  [Two-Artist Show)]
Michael Abramson: Tales from the South Side. 70’s Chicago Clubs ((3/21-5/5) / MMX Gallery / London, England [Solo Exhibit]
Light on the South Side (1/12-2/ 24) / Benhadj & Djilali Galerie / Berlin, Germany [Solo Exhibit]
2017, Rock, Funk, & Punk   (6/10-8/27)  / Fotografie Forum / Frankfurt, Germany
2015, A Lasting Vision: Photographs of the Institute of Design 1970-2001 (7/31-8/14) / Chicago, IL [Group Show]
2014, Pulse of the Night: Photographs of Michael Abramson (9/2-12/19) / Museum of Contemporary Photography / Chicago, IL [Solo Exhibit]
Focal Points: American Photography Since 1950 (5/18-9/1) / Madison Museum of Contemporary Arts / Madison, WI [Group Show]
2011, Salon Collections Exhibit (5/5-8/15) / Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL [Group Show]
2008, Made in Chicago / (10/18/08-1/4/09)  From the LaSalle Bank of America  Collection / Chicago, IL [Group Show]
Photographers of Chicago / Chicago Cultural Center / Chicago, IL [Group Show]
2004, Superhits of the 70’s: Photographs from the Collection (10/8-1/2/05) / Milwaukee Art Museum / Milwaukee, WI [Group Show] 
Photographs of Cuba: Michael Abramson (Spring) / Catholic Theological Union / Chicago, IL [Solo Exhibit] 
1989, Seein’ the Blues / Chicago Film Makers / Chicago, IL [Group Show] 
1987, Stepping Out / Art Institute of Chicago / Chicago, IL [Group Show] 
1983, Photography of Michael Abramson / Museum of Contemporary Photography / Chicago, Illinois [Solo Exhibit] 
Five-Years at Creative Photography / Creative Photography Gallery / Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Cambridge, Ma. [Group Show] 
1981, Chicago Photography / California Museum of Photography /Riverside, CA 
1980, Gallery Artists / Zolla Lieberman Gallery / Chicago, IL [Group Show] 
The New Vision: 40 Years of Photography at the Institute of Design / Chicago Cultural Center / Chicago, IL [Group Show] 
1979, Michael Abramson / Zolla Lieberman Gallery / Chicago, IL [Solo Exhibit] 
Photography of Michael Abramson / Milwaukee Art Museum / Milwaukee, WI [Solo Exhibit] 
Michael Abramson Photography / Cincinnati Academy of Art / Cincinnati, OH [Solo Exhibit] 
1978, Permanent Collection Exhibit (Michael Abramson) / Milwaukee Art Museum / Milwaukee, WI [Group Show]

2009, Grammy Nominee (Best Packaging) / Light on the South Side (Photographs by Michael Abramson) / Numero Group Recording Co. Chicago, IL.

2018, Men Photographing Women in the 70s / Hoxton Mini Press (Release date of June, 2018) / London, England [Solo Artist]
2017, Chicago: Classic Photographs  (Perv’s House – Chicago, 1976) / City Files Press / Chicago, IL, p 132
2016, The Oxford American, Southern Music Issue (Pervs House – Chicago, 1976)  Vol.18, / Little Rock, AR, p.9 
2015, A Lasting Vision: Photographs from the Institute of Design, 1970-2001 (Pepper’s Hideout – Chicago, 1976) Illinois Institute of Technology Press / IL, p. 26
Gotta Go, Gotta Flow / CityFiles Press / Chicago, IL [Solo Artist]
2009, Light On the South Side / The Numero Group Recording Co. / Chicago, Illinois [Solo Print Artist]
2004, Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago (2nd Ed.) 1984 / Hudson Hill Press / Manchester, VT / Photographs by Kathleen Culbert-Aguilar and Michael Abramson  
1983, Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago (1st Edition) / Abbeville Press / New York, NY Photographs by Kathleen Culbert-Aguilar and Michael Abramson 
1982, The New Vision, Forty Years of Photograph at the Institute of Design / Aperture; First Edition (April 1982) / Millerton, NY

2017,  The Chi (South side photographs featured in bar scenes) / Showtime Original Series / Chicago, IL
2012, The History of Soul Music: Five Key Cities / VH1 Special Programming / Los Angeles, CA

1983-2010, Freelance Photography Publication Outlets
Periodicals: Time, Newsweek, People, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Travel and Leisure, Sports Illustrated, Entertainment Weekly, Discover, Stern, Der Spiegel, Panorama, Le Point, Harpers, Barrons, Bloomberg Markets, Smithsonian Air & Space, Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Money, Inc. Magazine, New York Times Magazine, Metropolitan Home, Smart Money, US News and World Report, Chicago Tribune Magazine, Chief Executive, Business 2.0, Ms Magazine, Bloomberg

Bayer, Miles Laboratories, Whirlpool, Northern Trust Bank, AM International, Northwestern University, Mitsubishi, Sears, Square D, Herman Miller, Zebra Technology,Warner Lambert.

Art Institute of Chicago / Chicago, Illinois
Creative Photography Gallery / Massachusetts Institute of Technology / Cambridge, Massachusetts
California Museum of Photography / Riverside, California
Madison Art Center / Madison, Wisconsin
Museum of Contemporary Photography / Columbia College / Chicago, Illinois
Milwaukee Art Museum / Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Chicago Historical Society / Chicago, Illinois
Smithsonian Institution / Washington, DC