The Artists Behind Black and White Photography
Behind black and white photography are many artists who have made photography an art form in its own right, or who have revolutionized its use. Thanks to the technical evolutions and experiments of the artists, black and white has gone from being a constraint to an artistic choice. To celebrate these artists who have made black and white photography what it is today, dive with Artsper into the singular and atypical worlds of these renowned photographers.
1. Henri Cartier-Bresson and his decisive moment
When black and white photography is brought up, one can’t miss out on Henri Cartier-Bresson’s work! Master of the “decisive moment,” the sharp-eyed artist captures everyday moments that may seem insignificant. His works are recognized for their mastered composition and their reportage dimension. Indeed, each of his photographs is easily restituable geographically and temporally.
2. Sabine Weiss and humanist photography
Of Swiss origin and naturalized French, Sabine Weiss is one of the major artists of French humanist photography. First a student of photographer Willy Maywald, she then opened her own studio to capture the optimism of the post-war years. Between fashion, literature and music, she photographed the great names of culture. In the 1950s, she began to focus on photojournalism by joining the Agence Rapho press agency. Thus, black and white allows her to eternalize human emotions, universal in their uniqueness.
3. William Klein and urban black and white photography
In 1956, William Klein published Life Is Good and Good For You in New York: Trance Witness Revels, a “photographic diary” in which he deconstructs the myth of the American Dream in New York City. Since this success, Klein has established himself as one of the most influential photographers of his generation. Specialist in urban landscapes, this naturalized American artist also worked in painting, film and fashion photography. He passed away in September 2022, leaving his mark on the art world.
4. Yva and Berlin fashion
German fashion photographer and portrait artist, Yva, whose real name was Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon, was in great demand during the interwar period. Until 1938, she ran one of Berlin’s most important photography studios. Then, she was forced to give up her profession as a photographer because of the Aryanization laws. She captured the portraits of many celebrities, and also participated in the creation of talents that are celebrated today such as Helmut Newton, one of her apprentices. Being Jewish, she was persecuted and died in a concentration camp in 1942, but her talent lives on in the legacy of black and white photography.
5. Ansel Adams and black and white landscape photography
The American photographer Ansel Adams is known for his landscape photographs. Black and white photography of the American West is his favorite playground, a nature reserve south of Yosemite Park in California even bears his name. With Fred Archer, he created the “zone system”, a photographic process that allowed him to control the brightness and contrast of the subject being photographed. Thus, Adams’ works are recognizable by their brightness and depth. In addition, he was one of the founders of the f/14 group, which worked to promote photography.
A lasting legacy in black and white…
The power of the artists behind black and white photography is still felt today. This genre emphasizes the shapes, luminosity and relief of the objects captured. Sometimes, as these artists show very well, color is not necessary to capture the intensity of a shot. So, are you going to start taking black and white photographs too?
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