Ilse Bing

(Frankfurt, Germany, 1899 - 1998)

Europe, German

Ilse Bing was one of the foremost female photographers of the Paris avant-garde in the 1930s. While pursuing a doctorate in art history at the University of Frankfurt, Bing purchased a camera and began teaching herself photography. Bing abandoned her university studies in 1929 to pursue photojournalism full-time, contributing images to the magazine Frankfurter Illustriete, and documenting the housing projects of Bauhaus architect Mart Stam.

Bing moved to Paris in 1930, joining that city’s thriving avant-garde scene and providing photographs for news publications and fashion magazines such as Vogue and Marchal. Bing was among the first photographers to use solarization, the electronic flash, the 35-millimeter camera, and to take photographs at night. A selection of her works was exhibited at the Salon Internationale d'Art Photographique in 1931, prompting art critic Emmanuel Sougez to dub Bing the “Queen of the Leica”, after the high-speed Leica I camera that was Bing’s chief instrument. Bing continued to exhibit in both Paris and New York City. She relocated to New York with her husband, the pianist Konrad Wolff, in 1941, and remained there until her death in 1998.

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