Bing, Ilse (1899–1998)

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Bing, Ilse (1899–1998)

German photojournalist. Born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1899; died in New York City on March 17, 1998; attended University of Frankfurt; married Konrad Wolff, in 1937.

Raised in an affluent family, Ilse Bing received early training in music and art, and pursued a degree in the history of art at the University of Frankfurt. In 1928, she began photographing architecture to illustrate her doctoral thesis on German architect Friedrich Gilly. Much to her family's disappointment, she abandoned her studies in 1930 and moved to Paris to photograph full time. Although she was primarily a photojournalist, she worked from time to time in advertising.

After Bing achieved some success in French publications, the author Hendrik William Van Loon, who was living in New York City, introduced her work in the United States. In 1932, she was included in the exhibition Modern European Photography: Twenty Photographers. While visiting New York in 1936, she was offered a position with Life magazine, which she turned down. The following year, her work appeared in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Photography, 1839–1937.

In 1937, Bing married the pianist and musicologist Konrad Wolff with whom she relocated to New York with the advent of World War II. She continued to work until 1959, after which she was virtually forgotten until 1976 when her photographs appeared in two New York exhibitions: one at the Museum of Modern Art and another at the Witkin Gallery. Bing died in March 1998, age 98, two weeks before another retrospective of her work was to be held at the Edwynn Houk Gallery on Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts