Celebrated in the 1930s as "Queen of the Leica," the German-born photographer Ilse Bing pioneered the use of the new 35mm camera in Paris. Along with Brassai, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dora Maar, and Florence Henri, to name but a few, Bing played a key role in making Paris the capital of avant-garde photography. Born in Frankfurt, Bing began her career in 1929 as a photojournalist. Her debut coincided with the rise of the German illustrated press, but she soon moved to Paris. During the following decade, she was a leading member of the thriving photographic milieu, exhibiting at established museums as well as avant-garde art galleries. She was regularly featured in prestigious publications such as "Arts et metiers graphiques", "L'Art vivant", and "Harper's Bazaar". Bing trained her camera on people, architecture, fashion, and landscapes alike, and developed a personal style that combined the abstraction of Bauhaus, the dreaminess of Surrealism, and the geometry of the New Vision. She was forced into exile by the war, and moved to New York, where she put down her camera for good in 1959.
Her work was rediscovered in the 1970s, when it was again featured in landmark exhibitions. She died in 1998 when she was nearly ninety-nine years old. Her 1931 "Self-Portrait with Leica" is now an icon of modern photography.
Larisa Dryansky was born in Paris of American expatriates. She is an independent author and curator on photography. Edwynn Houk is the founder of the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York, specialising in twentieth century photography.