ILSE BING, Circus Acrobat on Black Ball, New York, 1936


ILSE BING (German, 1899-1998)

In 1928, Ilse Bing was enrolled at the University of Frankfurt to purse her doctoral degree in art history. She wrote, and illustrated with photographs, her dissertation on the German architect Friedrich Gilly. She then began photographing for the German magazine Frankfurter Illustrierte, whereupon she ended her academic studies and moved to Paris. Bing’s photographs were introduced to the United States in 1931 by author Hendrik Willem Van Loon; she quickly gained critical acclaim. In 1932, Julien Levy included her work in an exhibition, Modern European Photography: Twenty Photographers. In 1937, her work was part of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, called Photography: 1839-1937.

Ilse Bing stopped photographing and exhibiting in 1959 and did not begin again until the mid-1970s. A resurgence of her work began in 1976 when it was included in an untitled exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art and a major exhibition at the Witkin Gallery in New York. Bing’s work exemplifies early 20th century European documentary photography and is included in museum collections around the world.

Selected Collections:

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA