Mar 26, 2012
Mar 26, 2012




Ilse Bing

(American, 1899–1998)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 8.8 x 14.3 cm (3 7/16 x 5 5/8 in.); Mounted: 24.9 x 34.9 cm (9 13/16 x 13 3/4 in.); Paper: 8.8 x 14.3 cm (3 7/16 x 5 5/8 in.); Matted: 35.6 x 45.7 cm (14 x 18 in.)

Gift of George Stephanopoulos 2011.230



Reichenau and Überlingen are towns on the German side of Lake Constance. Ilse Bing was writing a doctoral dissertation on an 18th-century architect and began to take photography seriously in order to provide illustrations for it. She shot these pictures and the one on the left during a fateful departmental outing. On that trip, Bing saw for the first time a painting by Vincent van Gogh and instantly decided to abandon art history and become an artist—but not a painter. “I didn’t choose photography; it chose me,” she said. “It was the trend of the time. . . . And the camera, that was, in a way, the beginning of the mechanical device penetrating into the field of art.”

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