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Rockerfeller Center and Chrysler Building Tops

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Place of origin:

    New York (City) (made)

  • Date:

    1936 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bing, Ilse, born 1899 - died 1998 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin-silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Ilse Bing Wolff

  • Museum number:

    E.3029-2004

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 913, box F

Ilse Bing (1899–1998) was one of several leading women photographers in the inter-war period. Born into a Jewish family in Frankfurt, she initially pursued an academic career before moving to Paris in 1930 to concentrate on photography.

In the 1930s Bing was championed in the USA by the writer Willem Hendrik van Loon, who introduced her work to the editors of Harpers Bazaar magazine and the influential gallerist Julian Levy. In her scenes of New York, made during her visit in 1936, Bing resolved her interests in Modernist design and the comedies of urban randomness. Her skills as a photojournalist are evident in vernacular sidewalk scenes such as this – gatherings of ethnic minorities, card schools and barber’s shop frontages, reminiscent of contemporary American realist painting. This populist iconography is combined with responses to modern architecture – a subject also shared with contemporary American photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and Berenice Abbott.

Physical description

Black and white photograph of the tops of four soaring New York skyscrapers against a grey sky.

Place of Origin

New York (City) (made)

Date

1936 (made)

Artist/maker

Bing, Ilse, born 1899 - died 1998 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin-silver print

Marks and inscriptions

'161-53-c5'
Archival reference from cataloguing prior to acquisition by V&A

Dimensions

Width: 27.9 cm, Height: 20 cm

Descriptive line

'Rockerfeller Center and Chrysler Building tops', photograph by Ilse Bing, 1936, vintage gelatin-silver print

Labels and date

Bing was one of several leading European women photographers of the inter-war period. Her immediate and highly successful use of the world's most advanced camera, the Leica, earned her the title 'Queen of the Leica'. Bing supported herself through commercial photography, gaining a reputation as a photojournalist and a fashion photographer. This image of New York, with its minimalist composition and extreme vantage point, highlights the city's soaring modern architecture. [April 2009-April 2010]

Gallery 100, ‘History of photography’, 2012-2013, label texts :

Ilse Bing (1899 – 1998)
‘Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Building Tops’
1936

Bing was one of several successful European
women photographers of the inter-war period.
She supported herself through commercial
photography, gaining a reputation as a
photojournalist and a fashion photographer.
This image of New York, with its minimalist
composition and extreme vantage point,
highlights the city’s soaring modern architecture.

Gelatin silver print
Bequeathed by Ilse Bing Wolff
Museum no. E.3029-2004
[11 03 2014]

Production Note

Vintage print

Categories

Photographs; Architecture

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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