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Black and white Photography

Black and white photography is today one of countless photographic techniques and yet it was as at one time, the only type of photography available. This is the reason why it often tends to be associated with historical works and a vintage feel.

In the 1830s, Nièpce discovered how to print images onto metal plates. When he died in 1833, Louis Daguerre, followed by Francois Arago, continued to develop his research, resulting in the invention of the daguerreotype which consisted of an image printed onto a silver plate when exposed to the light. Together they invented photography.

The first black and white photos began to appear. Initially used for research purposes, photography started to spread as daguerreotype studios opened everywhere. Black and white portraits immortalised the faces of the upper middle classes and would later be used to capture all members of society. Celebrities were also a popular subject choice and many photographers specialised in taking their portraits, as Jean-Loup Sieff did all throughout his career almost a century after the invention of photography.

The first coloured photographs soon followed. The technique was invented as early as 1860 but was not put to use until a century later. In the meantime, many unforgettable artists began to demonstrate their talents for art photography. Street photography, for example, was a key trend during the 20th century, with major photographers such as Robert Doisneau, Brassi and Henri Cartier-Bresson capturing the urban landscape of the time. All three were masters of taking candid photos. They succeeded in making fleeting moments last forever in monochrome images. Sometimes humorous, sometimes romantic, or even just a little bizarre, they take us back in time to days gone by. Looking at such rare and fragile moments can be like going through old postcards from the past, and although we enjoy looking at them, they can provoke a sense of nostalgia and melancholy.

In the United States, the humanist Walker Evans led the way for black and white photography, capturing the daily life of modern America with his analogue camera, whether it be in the New York subway or on the highways of the Deep South. A little later, Robert Frank photographed the faces of America and the American people with his remarkable black and white shots, recognisable thanks to his highly distinctive photographic technique and composition.

Black and white photography isn't just limited to representing daily life. As Ansel Adams demonstrates, it can also be used to capture the most magnificent landscapes. Black and white images are ideal for long-exposure photography, as the combination of the two makes it seem as if time is gently floating by. Michael Kenna and Arnaud Bertrande are two examples of photographers who excel in this domain.

It is easy to be fascinated by how perfectly the two colours complement each other in certain images. We often associate black with a sense of sadness and nothingness whilst white is suggestive of light and hope (although the Western signification of the colour white contrasts with that of other cultures, for example in Japan, white symbolises death). The combination of the two shades highlights the contrast and accentuates the shapes in the image with elegance and simplicity. It often draws our attention to a rather unique subject and our perception of it can vary depending on the chosen shades and centring. It is often used to create a sense of nostalgia and history to convey a timeless message that seems frozen in time.

Travel back in time with Artsper's collection of black and white limited edition art photographs, available in big and small formats, from artists including Brno Del Zou, Bert Stern, Ellen Von Unwert, Karl-Martin Holzhäuzer, Wang Wusheng, Lee Jeffries and Hervé Gloaguen.We also recommend Herve Hall's images of the Brooklyn Bridge and the beautiful sepia photos of the Eiffel Tower by Jean-Paul Lubliner.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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Chema Madoz, Untitled, Photography

Chema Madoz

Untitled, 1987
60 x 50 cm
Photography

€2,650

Detlev Schneider, Nenneh Cherry, Photography

Detlev Schneider

Nenneh Cherry, 1996
50 x 40 cm
Photography

€1,100

Frantisek Drtikol, 2 women with bouquet of roses, Photography

Frantisek Drtikol

2 women with bouquet of roses, 1919
26 x 19 cm
Photography

€1,200

Richard Morrison, Damme Canal, Bruges, Photography

Richard Morrison

Damme Canal, Bruges, 2018
64 x 96 cm
Photography

€532

Jan Saudek, Ost und West, 1945, Photography

Jan Saudek

Ost und West, 1945, 1998
20.2 x 15.1 cm
Photography

€1,500

Horst P. Horst, Yasmin Le Bon Chanel contact sheet, Vogue UK, Photography

Horst P. Horst

Yasmin Le Bon Chanel contact sheet, Vogue UK, 1986
180.1 x 137.4 x 0.3 cm
Photography

€21,621

Olivier Urfer, Glace, Photography

Olivier Urfer

Glace, 2014
100 x 65 x 0.5 cm
Photography

€2,119

Michael James O'Brien, Joey Arias Channeling Billie Holiday, NYC, Photography

Michael James O'Brien

Joey Arias Channeling Billie Holiday, NYC, 1992
91.4 x 61 x 0.3 cm
Photography

€4,324

Rose Hartman, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Studio 54, New York, 1977, Photography

Rose Hartman

Mick and Bianca Jagger, Studio 54, New York, 1977, 2021
50.8 x 61 x 0.3 cm
Photography

€3,459

Osher Partovi, Black Magic, Photography

Osher Partovi

Black Magic, 2019
100 x 140 x 2 cm
Photography

€2,000

Alexander Benz, Curtain Call, Photography

Alexander Benz

Curtain Call, 2019
40 x 40 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€460

Peter Knapp, Zazie, Hamburg (stern), Photography

Peter Knapp

Zazie, Hamburg (stern), 1970
21 x 21 x 0.5 cm
Photography

€3,600

Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
27 x 21 x 0.2 cm
Photography

€32,000

Feng Hatat, Ombre et lumière III, Photography

Feng Hatat

Ombre et lumière III, 2014
48 x 32 x 1 cm
Photography

€500

Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
50 x 40 cm
Photography

€900

Tanguy Mendrisse, Before the mess, Photography

Tanguy Mendrisse

Before the mess, 2019
24 x 30 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€140

Lucien Clergue, Maïs, Le Marais D'Arles, Photography

Lucien Clergue

Maïs, Le Marais D'Arles, 1960
25.2 x 16.5 x 0.3 cm
Photography

€2,400

Our recommendations Gerry Cranham, White Hart Lane, Photography

Gerry Cranham

White Hart Lane, 1964
40 x 60 cm
Photography

€1,500

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Project for a Public Building's Packaging, Photography

Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Project for a Public Building's Packaging, 1971
54 x 70 x 0.2 cm
Photography

€5,000

Mihaela Ivanova, Winter wind II, Photography

Mihaela Ivanova

Winter wind II, 2012
50 x 50 x 0.2 cm
Photography

€610

Pierrot Men, De père en fils, Ranomafana, Madagascar, Photography

Pierrot Men

De père en fils, Ranomafana, Madagascar, 2015
30 x 45 cm
Photography

€2,100

Arkadiy Kurta, Cloister Belle, Photography

Arkadiy Kurta

Cloister Belle, 2016
40.6 x 50.8 cm
Photography

€810 €900

Yevgeniy Repiashenko, Asphodel, Photography

Yevgeniy Repiashenko

Asphodel, 2020
120 x 120 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€1,800

Laurent Gudin, Lamb I, Photography

Laurent Gudin

Lamb I, 2009
48 x 48 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€1,950

Bruno Fournier, Diane Kruger 4, Photography

Bruno Fournier

Diane Kruger 4, 1993
46 x 30 x 1 cm
Photography

€1,500

Our recommendations Sébastien Chauchot, Céréales 3, Photography

Sébastien Chauchot

Céréales 3, 2019
40 x 35 x 1 cm
Photography

€350

Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
122 x 76 x 3 cm
Photography

€2,000

Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
30 x 45 cm
Photography

€1,055

Matthew Porter, Anxiety, Photography

Matthew Porter

Anxiety, 2019
17.7 x 14 cm
Photography

€2,162

Dominique Jullien, Pêcheur de Loire, Photography

Dominique Jullien

Pêcheur de Loire, 2019
13 x 30 x 1 cm
Photography

€300

Arturo Fermandois, Éclipse, Photography

Arturo Fermandois

Éclipse, 2017
40 x 50 cm
Photography

€780

Baptiste Blanchett, Gotta catch'em all, Photography

Baptiste Blanchett

Gotta catch'em all, 2018
50 x 75 x 1 cm
Photography

€650

Jodi Bieber, Cardiff by night, Photography

Jodi Bieber

Cardiff by night, 2003
70 x 50 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€2,640

Our recommendations Cristina Aldehuela, Lelo 1, Photography

Cristina Aldehuela

Lelo 1, 2014
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€1,300

Roger Ballen, Spooky Eyes, Photography

Roger Ballen

Spooky Eyes, 2012
36 x 24 x 2 cm
Photography

€2,000

Claudio Palmieri, Figura Fitomorfa, Photography

Claudio Palmieri

Figura Fitomorfa, 2006
97 x 75 x 0.2 cm
Photography

€4,500

Michel Di Maggio, Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), Photography

Michel Di Maggio

Poséidon (Christophe Charbonnel), 2018
110 x 94 x 5 cm
Photography

€2,200

Helmut Newton, Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, Photography

Helmut Newton

Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, 1980
41 x 27 cm
Photography

€890

Vanessa Vercel, Arc de triomphe, Photography

Vanessa Vercel

Arc de triomphe, 2020
70 x 105 x 2 cm
Photography

€1,300

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova, On the Kitchen Table 12, Photography

Nadezhda Oleg Lyahova

On the Kitchen Table 12, 2020
50 x 75 cm
Photography

€2,300

Bettino Craxi, Zitouna Mosque, Photography

Bettino Craxi

Zitouna Mosque, 1994
49 x 53 x 0.4 cm
Photography

€550

Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

Un’isola nell’aria, 1975
50 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€850

Sonac, Le Lama en Urbex, Photography

Sonac

Le Lama en Urbex, 2018
60 x 60 cm
Photography

€1,100

Alexis Berg, Kilian, Photography

Alexis Berg

Kilian, 2016
30 x 30 cm
Photography

€530

Tali Amitai-Tabib, Dalia, Photography

Tali Amitai-Tabib

Dalia, 2017
30 x 40 x 2 cm
Photography

€1,900

Raphaël Groux, Patterning, Photography

Raphaël Groux

Patterning, 2017
50 x 50 cm
Photography

€135

Yuriko Takagi, SEI P-44, Photography

Yuriko Takagi

SEI P-44, 1991
33 x 33 x 2 cm
Photography

€1,800

Ben Thouard, Au vol, Photography

Ben Thouard

Au vol, 2019
80 x 120 x 1 cm
Photography

€2,750

Bastien Bonnarme, Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, Photography

Bastien Bonnarme

Fred David - Dolphin Bodysurf, 2017
80 x 120 x 0.3 cm
Photography

€1,500

Uwe Ommer, Foot de rue, Photography

Uwe Ommer

Foot de rue, 1962
40 x 48 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€1,200

Emmanuelle Barbaras, Assemblée femmes Dakar, Photography

Emmanuelle Barbaras

Assemblée femmes Dakar, 2018
45 x 38 x 1 cm
Photography

€700

Our recommendations Serge Mendjisky, Statue de la Liberté HC, Photography

Serge Mendjisky

Statue de la Liberté HC, 2008
150 x 66 x 5 cm
Photography

€12,000

Our recommendations Pierre Schwartz, Victoire Montmorency, Photography

Pierre Schwartz

Victoire Montmorency, 2010
80 x 80 cm
Photography

€800

Pol Lujan, Chien - Christian Dior, Photography

Pol Lujan

Chien - Christian Dior, 1990
50 x 40 cm
Photography

€800

Sandrine Elberg, Meteor / asteroid, Photography

Sandrine Elberg

Meteor / asteroid, 2017
40 x 30 x 2 cm
Photography

€1,000

Wang XiaoZhou, Fleur 5, Photography

Wang XiaoZhou

Fleur 5, 2017
30 x 40 x 1 cm
Photography

€450

Maud Bernos, Bertrand de Broc, Photography

Maud Bernos

Bertrand de Broc, 2013
80 x 80 x 5 cm
Photography

€3,000

Roger Moukarzel, Covered head, Photography

Roger Moukarzel

Covered head, 2013
80 x 70 cm
Photography

€2,162

Muriel Despiau, Maheo Road, Photography

Muriel Despiau

Maheo Road, 2019
19 x 29 x 1 cm
Photography

€110

Olivier Semon, Riding boots, Photography

Olivier Semon

Riding boots, 2015
60 x 60 cm
Photography

€1,500

Ian Bradshaw, Reagan and the queen, Photography

Ian Bradshaw

Reagan and the queen, 1982
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm
Photography

€1,200

Alain Bouillot, Sans titre, Photography

Alain Bouillot

Sans titre, 2019
24 x 30 cm
Photography

€700

Alain Schroeder, Kid Jockey I, Photography

Alain Schroeder

Kid Jockey I, 2017
40 x 60 cm
Photography

€1,500

James Sparshatt, El amor, Photography

James Sparshatt

El amor, 2002
40 x 50 cm
Photography

€704

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