Ilse Bing related photographers
Ella Bergmann-Michel (born Paderborn, Germany 1896, died 1972) was a photographer, film-maker and artist influenced by Constructivism. Early in her career she made drawings and collages of machine-like forms and was concerned with abstraction in all media. She and her husband, the artist Robert Michel, lived in Frankfurt and held many social events for avant-garde artists such as the Russian Constructivist El Lissitzky.
Bing was introduced to Bergmann-Michel by Mart Stam in 1930 and developed a good friendship and working relationship with her. Bing was inspired by Bergmann-Michel's work, and together they focused on combining the elements of movement, reality and abstraction in their work. Bing explained that 'movement is so important. Nothing rests in our compositions, even if it seemingly rests, there is a dynamic of movement which you feel'.
Mart Stam (born Purmerend, Netherlands 1899, died Goldach, Switzerland 1986) was an architect, urban planner, designer, theorist and teacher. He strongly inflenced the Modern movement in the 1920s and '30s. In his architectural projects, including the Hellerhoff housing development in Frankfurt, Stam sought to get the maximum social benefit with the minimum amount of resources. Stam was inspired by Constructivism and promoted functionalist architecture. In 1928 he was a founder-member of CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne), and from 1928 to 1930 he taught at the Bauhaus school of design.
Stam commissioned Bing to record his projects in Frankfurt in the 1930s. The resulting photographs emphasise the space and light as well as the links between interior and exterior in Stam's designs. Stam and Bing were friends, and on her arrival in Paris in 1930, Bing stayed in the l'hôtel de Londres, rue Bonaparte, recommended by Stam.
Emmanuel Sougez (born Bordeaux 1889, died Paris 1972) was a photographer and critic. In Paris in the 1920s and '30s he used a large format camera to make photographs of still-lifes, sculpture and nudes. Sougez founded the photographic department of the journal L'Illustration in 1926 and was editor of Photographie. He supported the modernist movement in the 1930s, endorsing photographie pure at the same time as the Neue Sachlichkeit artists in Germany and Group f. 64 in the USA.
Sougez first saw Bing's work in 1931 in the windows of the publishers La Pléiade and was impressed by the unusual 'photographic dynamism'. He was interested in Bing's technique and asked for her contact details. They met up and remained good friends until the war. He christened Bing the 'Queen of the Leica' and wrote an article about her for the journal L'Art vivant in 1934.
Florence Henri (born New York 1893; died Compiègne, Oise 1982) was a painter and photographer. She trained at the Bauhaus, an influential school of art, design and architecture in Germany in the 1920s and '30s that advocated functional art and design, and strengthened the link between manufacturing and artistic creativity. Henri began as a painter, but under the training of László Moholy-Nagy at the Bauhaus, she became interested in photography and used mirrors and panes of glass to manipulate her subjects. She worked freelance in Paris from 1929 to 1963 as a portrait, advertising and fashion photographer.
It was an exhibition of modern photographs organised by Henri that impressed Bing and inspired her to leave Frankfurt for Paris in 1930. Bing explained that at that point she 'saw there was another world'. Although Bing was insistently 'on the edge of the periphery of the Bauhaus' rather than part of the group, she said of Henri that 'we both have the sense of abstract composition' and admired her work. Bing's self-portraits may have been inspired by those of Henri. Bing and Henri lived in the same apartment block in rue de Varenne in the 1930s, although Bing denies much contact with her at that time.
Andre Kertész (born Hungary 1894, died New York 1985) was a photographer who moved from Budapest to Paris in 1925. He photographed the sights of Paris, and was influential in developing artistic photographs using photojournalistic techniques and concentrating on transitory and everyday subjects. He was interested in abstract geometric art and modern international movements such as surrealism. Kertész was a leading photojournalist for Vu magazine and was widely published in books and magazines. Some of Bing's photographs of Paris, especially her views of the Eiffel Tower and pictures of everyday life, suggest the influence of Kertész.
In 1936 Kertész moved to New York. Bing was to follow in 1941.
Bing married the musicologist and pianist Konrad Wolff (born Berlin 1907, died Cologne, 1989) in Paris in 1937. They had met in 1933 - living in the same block of apartments on 8 rue de Varenne, Bing would hear Wolff's music drifting through the building every day. He was also Jewish. They were both interned by the Vichy government in 1940, and emigrated to the United States in 1941.
Wolff studied at the Sorbonne in Paris from 1934 to 1935 and throughout his career gave solo recitals in New York, Washington, Boston, London, Paris and Amsterdam, as well as teaching and writing about music.
Hendrick Willem van Loon
Hendrick Willem van Loon (born Rotterdam, Netherlands 1882, died New York?, 1944) was an author, journalist and illustrator whose works included The Story of Mankind (1921), The Story of the Bible (1923), and R. v. R. (1930), a fictional biography of Rembrandt.
Van Loon met Bing in 1931 and championed her work, facilitating commissions for American clients. He introduced Julien Levy to Bing's work. Levy ran what was then the only photography gallery in New York and included her work in the exhibition Modern European Photography: Twenty Photographers. Van Loon organised Bing's 1936 trip to New York where she was enthusiastically received.
A portrait of Jimmy van Loon, presumably the writer's wife, is included in the V&A Ilse Bing bequest.
Alfred Stieglitz (born New Jersey, 1864, died New York, 1946) was a photographer, editor, publisher, patron and dealer who championed American photography and was integral to the modernist movement in the United States.
Bing met Stieglitz during her trip to New York in 1936, describing this meeting as 'an event in my life'. She explained that 'In France, we didn't know about Stieglitz, and I was overwhelmed. He was wonderful…very proud…He showed me three photographs from the Cloud series, and left me alone with them. When he returned, he asked me to tell him what I thought about them. When I did, he smiled for the first time and said, "Oh, you understand"…For the first time, I saw American artists working from an American atmosphere. It was a new world to me.'
Some of the photographs that Bing took during her 1936 trip to New York (for example E.3029-2004, 'Rockerfeller Center and Chrysler Building tops' or E.3052-2004, 'Carriage, Central Park') suggest the influence on her of Stieglitz's iconic representations of that city.