Best of the Best: Ilse Bing


“I didn’t choose photography; it chose me. I didn’t know it at the time. An artist doesn’t think first then do it, he is driven.” – Ilse Bing

Ilse Bing (23 March 1899 – 10 March 1998)

Ilse Bing learned photography by herself for the sole purpose of her research when she was still studying at the Universities of Frankfurt and Vienna. It was the mid-1920s and the revolutionary 35mm hand-held Leica cameras were fresh on the market — Bing purchased one and she became the only professional Parisian photographer to use this kind of camera. Later on, she was named as the Queen of the Leica.

Bing began to receive photojournalism recognitions for her contributions in the visual magazine Frankfurter Illustrierte. She also collaborated with a renowned architect, Mart Stam, who was then the chief architect of a big construction project in the late 1920s, Das Neue Frankfurt. Not long after this, Bing decided to fully concentrate on photography.

As a photographer, she was mainly attracted to subjects that are purely incidental and ordinary. She preferred taking photographs of things which “made a picture” to her. She was fond of utilizing daring geometries and perspectives, modernist compositions with great emphasis on abstractions, natural lighting, and unconventional cropping.

Danseuses a l’ecole de laban’ Frankfurt 1929 © Ilse Bing via colordonor
Hellerhofsiedlung Frankfurt – my shadow and the shadow of the architect Mart Stam on the roof, 1930 © Ilse Bing via colordonor
Can Can Dancer at the Moulin Rouge, 1931 © Ilse Bing via colordonor
Concierge, Paris © Ilse Bing via iphotocentral
It Was So Windy in the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1931 © Ilse Bing via vanityfair
Eiffel Tower with the thermometer, ca. 1932 © Ilse Bing via colordonor
Paris Street Fair, 1933 © Ilse Bing via vanityfair
Orchestra Pit, Theatre des Champs-Elysees, Paris, 1933 © Ilse Bing via vanityfair
Champ de Mars, Vu de la Tour Eiffel © Ilse Bing via iphotocentral
Shoes, for Harpers Bazaar, 1935 © Ilse Bing via colordonor
New York Battery with the Statue of Liberty © Ilse Bing via iphotocentral
All photos © Ilse Bing via colordonor
Self-Portrait in Mirrors, 1931 © Ilse Bing via colordonor

Which of these Ilse Bing photographs strike your liking the most? What other “Leica masters” would you like to be written about? Read more about the Best of the Best Series.

written by basterda on 2011-05-25 #lifestyle #black-and-white #classic #photographers #leica #best-of-the-best-series #ilse-bing


  1. angela_silva
    angela_silva ·

    i love the one of the shadow in the building

  2. bpvarona
    bpvarona ·

    The can can dancer catches my eye- I love the way she captured the movement.

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