Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Michael L. Abramson  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Non-Fiction Other

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey

Died: 2011 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Michael L. Abramson on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Abramson earned his Masters in Photography in 1977 from the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He continued to live and work in Chicago thereafter.

Biographical and Professional Information

Michael Abramson was a photographer. He produced commercial and documentary photographs for nearly four decades starting in the early 1970’s. His work appeared in numerous national and foreign publications including ''Forbes'', ''Fortune'', ''Newsweek'', and ''Time'' and his work has been exhibited at museums and galleries including The Art Institute of Chicago, The Milwaukee Art Museum, and The Philadelphia Art Museum. His Chicago nightlife photos taken during the 70's are collected in the book ''Light: on the South Side.'' It is a portfolio that is a part of a record album set that captured things that no one saw or took pictures of. This work is internationally known by photo connoisseurs.Today, Abramson's photographs are included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian, the Art Institute of Chicago, the California Museum of Photography, the Chicago Historical Society, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Light: On The South Side (2 LP + Book) [Vinyl]

Numero. 2009

Light: On The South Side gathers for the first time over 100 of Michael Abramson's photos taken on Chicago's south side in the late 70s. The 132-page hard back book features photos, an ephemera section, and an essay by Nick Hornby. Housed in a gorgeous slipcase with the 12X12 book is Pepper's Jukebox, a seventeen track compilation of the kind of funky Chicago blues heard from the stage and the Wurlitizer. The deluxe 2LP set is packaged in a sharp gatefold jacket with two inner sleeves crammed to the gills with label scans and stories from the bar stool.

Miniature Rooms: The Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago
ISBN: 0896594076

Abbeville Press. 1984

There has been generations of visitors to The Art Institute of Chicago that have been entranced by the Thorne Miniature Rooms. Painstakingly constructed to a one inch to one foot. They have fascinating models that recreate 68 European and American interiors from the 16th to 20th century. These rooms were conceived by Ms. James Ward Thorne, who carefully were researched with every detail. They had a master craftsmen execute the pieces to her exacting specifications. Each room in this book is reproduced in color.

Palante: Young Lords Party
ISBN: 1608461297

Haymarket Books. 2011

In 1969, a group of young Puerto Rican activists founded the Young Lords Party in New York City, taking inspiration from the Black Panthers. Palante, the first book by and about the radical organization, is brought back into print here with new introductory material. Capturing the spirit and actions of the sixties movements, Palante features political essays by members, oral histories of their lives leading into the party, and more than seventy-five photos of their vibrant membership and actions.

Michael Abramson is a photographer and publisher who lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Iris Morales is the producer of the documentary ˇPalente, Siempre Palente! The Young Lords, which aired on PBS, and is the executive director of the Union Square Awards.

Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago's South Side From the Seventies
ISBN: 0991541820

CityFiles Press. 2015

Michael Abramson takes out his small Leica camera at Pepper’s Hideout on Chicago’s South Side. 1974. Cool music. Cool scene.

Over the next three years, Abramson takes thousands of vivid photographs of smoke-filled Pepper’s, Perv’s House, the Patio Lounge, High Chaparral, and other black nightclubs. Not so much the clubs, but the night people who fill the crowded bars until sunrise.

Enter Patricia Smith, a nationally acclaimed poet who grew up not far from these clubs. Smith, a four-time National Poetry Slam champion who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2014, finds inspiration in Abramson’s pictures. She creates words that capture the culture of Chicago’s black nightclubs and the urban life that nurtured them. She brings his night world back to life.

Smith’s words and Abramson’s photographs record the vitality of a special place and time. Her words give his photographs a new rhythm as well as a new place in Chicago and music history. The clubs seem timeless, but they came and went. Now, only Abramson’s flash-filled photographs and Smith’s resilient words remain.