Ilse Bing was an early adopter par excellence. Born into a comfortable middle-class Jewish family in Frankfurt, Germany in 1899, she dropped her plans for a PhD. in art history and decided to become an artist after seeing a 1929 exhibition on the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.
But instead of taking up a brush, Bing bought a Leica— a sophisticated and revolutionary new German-made camera that took pictures with 36-exposure rolls of 35-millimeter film, originally developed for motion pictures.
Within a year, Bing relocated to Paris, where she developed a reputation as the “Queen of the Leica,‘' a sobriquet that doubles as the title f a delightful and poignant exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art.