New York, the Elevated, and Me

New York, the Elevated, and Me


Ilse Bing

(American, 1899-1998)

Gelatin silver print

Image: 18.8 x 28.2 cm (7 3/8 x 11 1/8 in.); Matted: 40.6 x 50.8 cm (16 x 20 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1989.386



While visiting New York City in 1936, Bing made this engaging photograph of an elevated train platform, stressing the abstract and geometric qualities of the surrounding buildings. The reliance on diagonals, especially those of the architecture, outdoor signs, and shadow patterns, give the picture a sense of energy and motion. On the right side of the image, the photographer’s reflection is visible, adding a figure to an environment otherwise unsettlingly free of any human presence. Self-taught, Bing began her impressive photographic career in the late 1920s and spent the next decade working in Paris before fleeing France for America in 1941. Among her many technical achievements, Bing was one of the first to work exclusively with a small, handheld camera, the Leica.

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