Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Antique Image of the Day: "Shoes," for 'Harpers Bazaar,' 1935

The Victoria & Albert Museum

Hauntingly beautiful, this black and white photograph depicts a pair of feet wearing silver lame shoes under am ethereal pleated skirt. The image is from the genius Ilse Bing (1899–1998) who was one of several leading female photographers in the inter-war period.

Bing was born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt, and initially pursued a career in academics. She took up photography to illustrate her academic writings on the German Neo-classical architect Friedrich Gilly.

By 1929, Bing had become increasingly intrigued with photography and purchased a new Leica camera so that she might photograph the new architecture being built around Frankfurt. Her unique sense of balance and light caught the attention of Dutch Modernist architect Mart Stam who commissioned her to record several of his new contemporary building projects.

Within a year, Bing moved to Paris with the ambition of making photography her sole career. She quickly found the patronage of American writer Willem Hendrik van Loon, who introduced her work to the editors of Harpers Bazaar. By the mid 1930s, Bing’s work was applauded for its originality and beauty—giving her a permanent place amongst the world’s greatest photographers.

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