Exhibition from March 17th to April 18th, 2007
There is probably no photographer who commited herself so passionately to photography with the Leica like Ilse Bing (1899-1998). Since 1929, this miniature camera was her constant companion and should be it for over two decades.
„I felt that the camera grew an extension of my eyes and
moved with me.“
In the beginning of the 1930s, the the extraordinary technique and quality of her photographs drew the art world´s attention to Ilse Bing. Especially in Europe, in the USA, and in Japan she won a great reputation as photojournalist and fashion photographer. In the 1970s, her work was rediscovered and since then it was exhibited several times. Today, her works are represented in the collections of many important museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Fine Art and the Art Institute of Chicago.
From April 29th to June 16th, 2005, the Karsten Greve gallery dedicates a substantial solo exhibition to Ilse Bing. Vintage gelatine prints from 1928 to 1947 are presented in particular. The black and white photographs were predominantly taken in Frankfurt and Paris. They mediate a representative review over the wide photographic range the photographer has left behind. The selection shows central topics of Ilse Bing´s oeuvre: the architecture, the city, the still life, the dance and the self-portrait.
Ilse Bing´s artistic employment with those topics was extraordinary manifold. Wether she took a picture of a leaf besides a tramway ticket on the road, wether she payed her attention to a lantern, or set herself in the centre of her picture – with the help of her specific perception and her distinct intuition for fancy compositions she realised technically and textually challenging pictures.
Her photographs often reveal her affection for the the abstract in life. With the help of close-up views, the extensive use of uncommon perspectives, and detail views the motifs are ilsolated from their original context or even alienated. Her Frankfurt photographies like Budgeheim 1930, and her numerous Paris pictures like Chartres 1931 are challenging because of their emphasis on the constructive structure and their extract character. Intense contrasts between shadow and light regions and the focus on different material characteristics make those works seem like abstract geometric compositions.
Ilse Bing´s pictures repeatedly betray her fascination for the manifold facets of the metropolis. In Paris, that she explored on her walks with the Leica camera, she found a plentitude of appealing motifs with the help of her extraordinary view for the detail. Bing was interested in the “old” Paris as well as in modern architecture. In pictures like Greta Garbo Poster, Paris 1932 she emphasizes the aesthetic charm of the weathered material, while in her photographs of the Eiffel tower she places the emphasis on the breathtaking construction of the town´s landmark.
Ilse Bing was a very enthusiastic experimenter. She took pictures by night and day and with different atmospheric conditions, she worked with special light-sensitive films and afterwards manipulated her photographs with solarisation. In works like Fountain. Place De La Concorde 1933 and Place De La Concorde 1934 she purposely took the photo against the light source so that the fountain seems like a dark figure framed by light aureols.
The visualisation of movement in the picture was very important to Ilse Bing. She came in contact with the dance very early. “Nothing in our compositions rests, even if it apparently rests, there exists a certain dynamic of movement one can feel. Bing´s photographic occupation with this topic was full of facets. In works like Goldlame Evening Shoes 1935 she integrates the movement into the picture so that the observer has to add it theoretically, whereas in her Paris photographies of Can-Can dancers in Moulin Rouge, and in her series of the ballet Errante the bodies of the dancers form an entity with the course of motions.