Ilse Bing

“Getting 90 is just another day in striving to climb the infinite ladder of our dreams.”

Born in Frankfurt, Germany, Ilse Bing was a poet and avant-garde photographer who pioneered monochrome images, photojournalism, architecture, advertising, and fashion in a style that was once described as documentary humanism. She moved to Paris in 1930, her work was published in Le Monde, Harper’s Bazaar, and Vogue.

Her daring, unconventional photography methods earned her great success, and as the only professional at the time to use an advanced Leica camera, she was named the “Queen of the Leica.” Her photographs were presented at the Louvre in Paris, and later at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In 1940, when Paris was taken by the Germans during World War 2, she and her husband, who were both Jews, were sent to separate camps in the South of France. They were able to join and leave for America in 1941. This experience changed both her worldview and her style, which now showed hard forms and clear lines.   

In 1959, Bing decided to give up on photography altogether as she felt she had said all she had could with photography, and turned to writing poetry and making drawings and collages.             

For me, the inspiration of Ilse Bing’s is in her multi-dimensional and evolving art, as well as in her determination and openness to face change and to go with those changes whenever and wherever her life took her.