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Self-portrait in Mirrors, ParisEnlarge image

Self-portrait in Mirrors, Paris, 1931

Ilse Bing
German, American, 1899 - 1998
gelatin silver print
26.6 x 30.3 cm
Purchased 1977
National Gallery of Canada (no. 20873)

portrait, single, self, female
In this double self-portrait, made in Paris, Ilse Bing establishes her identity as a photographer. We see her camera facing one mirror that reflects into another behind her, where her hand holds the shutter release cable. This complex image alerts us to Bing's knowledge of cubist space and depictions of the subject seen simultaneously from many angles, as witnessed by her portrait in profile and three-quarter view. The composition intrigues us with the circular shape of the camera lens repeated in Bing's eye and her sleeve button and with the play of rectangles seen in the mirror, curtain, camera, match box, piece of cardboard, and the photograph itself. In the late 1920s, Bing became one of the few women working in photojournalism in Europe. She used new photographic technology such as the hand-held Leica camera, wide-angle and telephoto lenses, night and indoor photography. She also cropped and enlarged her images. Her abilities earned her the title of "Queen of the Leica" from a French critic. Paris during the 1920s and 1930s was a centre of photographic creativity and experimentation. New technology and developments in art such as cubist space, surrealist symbolism, and German abstract design influenced innovative photographic compositions.

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