Ilse Bing

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Ilse Bing
Ilse Bing self portrait 1931.jpg
Self portrait in 1931
Born 23 March 1899
Frankfurt, Germany
Died 10 March 1998 (age 98).
Manhattan, New York City, United States
Nationality German
Occupation Photographer
Religion Judaism
Spouse(s) Konrad Wolff

Ilse Bing (23 March 1899 – 10 March 1998) was a German avant-garde and commercial photographer who produced pioneering monochrome images during the inter-war era.

Her move from Frankfurt to the burgeoning avant-garde and surrealist scene in Paris in 1930 marked the start of the most notable period of her career. She produced images in the fields of photojournalism, architectural photography, advertising and fashion, and her work was published in magazines such as Le Monde Illustre, Harper's Bazaar, and Vogue. Respected for her use of daring perspectives, unconventional cropping, use of natural light, and geometries, she also discovered a type of solarisation for negatives independently of a similar process developed by the artist Man Ray.

Her rapid success as a photographer and her position as the only professional in Paris to use an advanced Leica camera earned her the title "Queen of the Leica" from the critic and photographer Emmanuel Sougez.

In 1936, her work was included in the first modern photography exhibition held at the Louvre, and in 1937 she travelled to New York where her images were included in the landmark exhibition "Photography 1839–1937" at the Museum of Modern Art.

She remained in Paris for ten years, but in the shadow of World War II, she and her husband immigrated to New York City in 1941. There, she had to re-establish her reputation, and got steady work in portraiture. By 1947, Bing came to the realization that New York had revitalized her art. Her style was very different; the softness that characterized her work in the 1930s gave way to hard forms and clear lines, with a sense of harshness and isolation. This was indicative of how Bing’s life and worldview had been changed by her move to New York and the war-related events of the 1940s.

For a short time in the 1950s, Bing experimented with color, but soon gave up photography altogether. She felt the medium was no longer adequate for her, and seemed to have tired of it. In the last few decades of her life, she wrote poetry, made drawings and collages, and occasionally incorporated bits of photos. She was interested in combining mathematics, words, and images.

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