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Black & White

Before the arrival of photography – with the exception of some etchings and lithographs – all the images we consumed were in colour. Quite simply, because no one would ever have thought to do anything else – why paint in black and white when colour was so readily available?

Yet despite this, today many photographers still choose to work in black and white – such as Pauline Théon, Kadir Von Lohuizen or Joh Lowenstein – even though their photos are taken in colour by the camera itself. Is the black and white trend a fleeting effect of fashion, or a symbolic return to the roots of the photography movement? Black and white photography has something that colour photos, despite recent innovations and the extraordinary quality of images today, cannot quite access. The use of black and white lends significant force to the composition: the contrasts, the shadows and the figures all stand out more strongly. People simply feel differently when faced with a colour photo versus a black and white image.

Colour is a distraction of sorts, a disturbance: colour is a nuisance.

And yet, some photographers still prefer colour to black and white, whilst others merge touches of colour with otherwise monochrome compositions. But in the end, all agree that both styles impose a totally different way of looking at a photo: from researching the shot to post production work, when artists develop or retouch the image. The use of colour is therefore something of a process in its own right, relating to two different ways of viewing the world and showing it others. The question, then, is what is being told, and why is it being in the way that it is?

The symbolic value of putting black and white together is a good starting point for reflecting on the fascination that they generate even today. There could not be a more fascinating, more striking ambivalence than when black, the 'colour' of darkness and burnt coal, considered a non-colour, is placed alongside white – representing light, and the result of all the colours merged together.

The problem faced by photographers today is that black and white still carry strong connotations of the past, of an era before the popularisation of colour and its massive cultural recovery amongst the press and photo journalists. In fact, it is rare now that contemporary subjects are photographed in colour, but we still associate black and white images with a retro feel.  

So what does contemporary art have to say about it all? Discover Artsper's selection of black and white works: on the border of past and present, of the real and the imaginary… let us guide you!

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Chanoir, Young White Cats, Painting

Chanoir

Young White Cats, 2019
39.4 x 31.9 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$5,196

Yves Hayat, Larmes de Coco, 'Coco Chanel pleurant', Photography

Yves Hayat

Larmes de Coco, 'Coco Chanel pleurant', 2017
23.6 x 43.3 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$6,928

Yoann Merienne, Mains I, Painting

Yoann Merienne

Mains I, 2019
15.7 x 15.7 inch
Painting

$2,309

Our recommendations Blek Le Rat, David, Painting

Blek Le Rat

David, 2006
100 x 58.7 x 2 inch
Painting

$19,629

Fabienne Bonnet, Terra incognita 1, Photography

Fabienne Bonnet

Terra incognita 1, 2018
19.7 x 19.7 x 0 inch
Photography

$577

Our recommendations Sarah Maple, Fighting Fire with Fire, Photography

Sarah Maple

Fighting Fire with Fire, 2013
24 x 19.3 inch
Photography

$577

Our recommendations Jerome Liebling, Butterfly boy, New York City, Photography

Jerome Liebling

Butterfly boy, New York City, 1949
12 x 12 inch
Photography

$15,000

Antoine Thos, Honey, Sculpture

Antoine Thos

Honey, 2017
45.3 x 59.1 x 2.4 inch
Sculpture

$3,926

Olivier Ribardière, Vintage 2, Photography

Olivier Ribardière

Vintage 2, 2013
22.8 x 16.5 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$1,386

Our recommendations Michel Birot, Frères, Photography

Michel Birot

Frères, 2005
23.6 x 35.4 inch
Photography

$2,887

Giuseppina Caci, Miroir, Painting

Giuseppina Caci

Miroir, 2013
47.2 x 78.7 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$8,660

Jean-Marie Marion, Profil sur table, Photography

Jean-Marie Marion

Profil sur table, 2011
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$1,732

Our recommendations Liu Xin Tao, Chambre #2, Painting

Liu Xin Tao

Chambre #2, 2013
59.1 x 59.1 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$17,320

Sophie Martin, Girafe marchant, Sculpture

Sophie Martin

Girafe marchant, 2014
9.8 x 14.2 x 2.8 inch
Sculpture

$4,388

Chengdong Guo, Femme Nue I, Sculpture

Chengdong Guo

Femme Nue I, 2016
14.6 x 10.6 x 3.9 inch
Sculpture

$5,427

Our recommendations Wolpa Wanambi, Wuyal ga Marurrumburr, Print

Wolpa Wanambi

Wuyal ga Marurrumburr, 2000
29.9 x 22 inch
Print

$866

Steeve Bauras, White Dreams Untitled N°12, Photography

Steeve Bauras

White Dreams Untitled N°12, 2016
70.9 x 47.2 x 2 inch
Photography

$6,351

Jérôme Mesnager, Quel cirque !, Print

Jérôme Mesnager

Quel cirque !, 2015
25.6 x 36.2 inch
Print

$254

Feng Hatat, Forêt, Photography

Feng Hatat

Forêt, 2014
19.7 x 27.6 x 2 inch
Photography

$577

Adeline Spengler, The jump, Photography

Adeline Spengler

The jump, 2013
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$5,196

Arnaud Puig aka ARDPG, Versus Black and White Murillo, Painting

Arnaud Puig aka ARDPG

Versus Black and White Murillo, 2015
39.4 x 27.6 x 1.2 inch
Painting

$2,887

Our recommendations Adeline Spengler, Daisy dance , Photography

Adeline Spengler

Daisy dance , 2014
23.6 x 35.4 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,956

Our recommendations Maurice Renoma, Acte pulsionnel - 029A, Photography

Maurice Renoma

Acte pulsionnel - 029A, 1994
39.4 x 27.6 inch
Photography

$5,196

Our recommendations Adeline Spengler, Urban trip, Photography

Adeline Spengler

Urban trip, 2013
23.6 x 35.4 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,956

Our recommendations Dani Olivier, Threesome, Photography

Dani Olivier

Threesome, 2016
23.6 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$1,386

Our recommendations Maurice Renoma, Acte pulsionnel D N#33P.01B , Photography

Maurice Renoma

Acte pulsionnel D N#33P.01B , 1999
15.7 x 11.8 inch
Photography

$4,041

Our recommendations Patrice Palacio, NY - II, Painting

Patrice Palacio

NY - II, 2014
74.8 x 51.2 x 2 inch
Painting

$12,124

Patrice Palacio, Mademoiselle X, Painting

Patrice Palacio

Mademoiselle X, 2016
63.8 x 51.2 x 2 inch
Painting

$12,124

Elisabeth Cibot, Belle rêveuse, Sculpture

Elisabeth Cibot

Belle rêveuse, 2004
23.6 x 23.6 x 23.6 inch
Sculpture

$28,867

San Zi, Nuage fine, Painting

San Zi

Nuage fine, 2016
27.6 x 35.4 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$12,370

Francis Apesteguy, Alfred Hitchcock, Photography

Francis Apesteguy

Alfred Hitchcock, 1976
23.6 x 15.7 inch
Photography

$981

Francis Apesteguy, Mick Jagger et Jerry Hall, Photography

Francis Apesteguy

Mick Jagger et Jerry Hall, 1980
15.7 x 23.6 inch
Photography

$981

Claude Cathray, La vague, Sculpture

Claude Cathray

La vague, 2014
7.9 x 13.8 x 13.8 inch
Sculpture

$5,773

Hildegarde Handsaeme, Les Rimes Féminines, Drawing

Hildegarde Handsaeme

Les Rimes Féminines, 2019
21.7 x 29.9 x 0.4 inch
Drawing

$439

Our recommendations Catherine Balet, Looking for the Masters in Ricardo's Golden Shoes #39 (Tribute to Andreas Feininger), Photography

Catherine Balet

Looking for the Masters in Ricardo's Golden Shoes #39 (Tribute to Andreas Feininger), 2016
11.8 x 9.8 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$1,039

Our recommendations Bertrand Noël, Dix fois Leos Carax - Le Baiser, Photography

Bertrand Noël

Dix fois Leos Carax - Le Baiser, 2014
19.7 x 29.5 inch
Photography

$1,847

Our recommendations Olivier Ribardière, Vintage 3, Photography

Olivier Ribardière

Vintage 3, 2013
22.8 x 16.5 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$1,386

Léa Lund & Erik K, Erik, Rockaway Beach, New York, octobre, Photography

Léa Lund & Erik K

Erik, Rockaway Beach, New York, octobre, 2014
27.6 x 39.4 inch
Photography

$4,157

Our recommendations Jean-Yves Goujard, Pingyao street 03, Photography

Jean-Yves Goujard

Pingyao street 03, 2004
23.6 x 35.4 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,956

Alexandre ALLOUL, "Stripes 1/2", Photography

Alexandre ALLOUL

"Stripes 1/2", 2019
13.4 x 20.1 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$520

Alexandre ALLOUL, "Stripes 2/2", Photography

Alexandre ALLOUL

"Stripes 2/2", 2019
13.4 x 20.1 x 0.4 inch
Photography

$520

Antoine Thos, Etoile Noire Anamorphose, Sculpture

Antoine Thos

Etoile Noire Anamorphose, 2017
74.8 x 59.1 x 47.2 inch
Sculpture

$6,351

Jean-Marie Marion, Monica Bellucci, Photography

Jean-Marie Marion

Monica Bellucci, 2001
23.6 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$2,309

Kim Westcott, Mother, Print

Kim Westcott

Mother, 2007
47.2 x 35.4 inch
Print

$4,503

Damien Gard, Memories VII, Photography

Damien Gard

Memories VII, 2017
47.2 x 31.5 x 2.8 inch
Photography

$3,695

Jean-Marie Marion, L'homme et l'eau, Photography

Jean-Marie Marion

L'homme et l'eau, 2014
23.6 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$1,732

Jean-Marie Marion, Mariée, Photography

Jean-Marie Marion

Mariée, 1994
23.6 x 19.7 inch
Photography

$1,732

Our recommendations Pierre Barbrel, XIX - Le Soleil, Photography

Pierre Barbrel

XIX - Le Soleil, 2015
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$1,732

Our recommendations Marc Morrel, Eclipse, Painting

Marc Morrel

Eclipse, 2002
29.5 x 29.5 x 1.6 inch
Painting

$4,850

Vincent Loisy, Tes Yeux dans le rétroviseur, Painting

Vincent Loisy

Tes Yeux dans le rétroviseur, 2016
74.8 x 47.2 x 13.8 inch
Painting

$2,656

Christine Lacour, Eclat d'eau, Painting

Christine Lacour

Eclat d'eau, 2016
39.4 x 23.6 x 0.8 inch
Painting

$2,656

Our recommendations Bernard Testemale, Titus Kinimaka, Photography

Bernard Testemale

Titus Kinimaka, 2015
33.1 x 25.2 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$4,572

Bernard Testemale, Corinne Gold, Photography

Bernard Testemale

Corinne Gold, 2014
33.1 x 25.2 x 1.6 inch
Photography

$4,572

Olga Volodina, Tender , Photography

Olga Volodina

Tender , 2015
23.6 x 35.4 inch
Photography

$1,028

Our recommendations François Brumas, Bestiaire 31, Photography

François Brumas

Bestiaire 31, 2015
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$1,956

Alexandre Lewkowicz, Harlem' train, Photography

Alexandre Lewkowicz

Harlem' train, 1965
39.4 x 27.6 x 0.8 inch
Photography

$2,309

Sophie Martin, Éléphant boule, Sculpture

Sophie Martin

Éléphant boule, 2016
9.8 x 9.1 x 2.8 inch
Sculpture

$4,388

Sylvain Coulaud, Rocher Zen II, Photography

Sylvain Coulaud

Rocher Zen II, 2013
23.6 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch
Photography

$577

Sophie Martin, Ours assis, Sculpture

Sophie Martin

Ours assis, 2016
7.9 x 4.7 x 4.3 inch
Sculpture

$3,233

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