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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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Karol Kállay, Midtown Still-life, Photography

Karol Kállay

Midtown Still-life, 1965
30 x 30 cm

$1,149 $1,436

Heike Bohnstengel, Cloudscape, LA, Photography

Heike Bohnstengel

Cloudscape, LA, 2017
40 x 50 x 0.1 cm


Leonard Freed, World Series Parade, Photography

Leonard Freed

World Series Parade, 1954
27.9 x 35.6 cm


Dasha & Mari, Wishes, Photography

Dasha & Mari

Wishes, 2019
40.6 x 50.8 cm


Alexander Benz, Look Look, Photography

Alexander Benz

Look Look, 2021
80 x 80 x 0.1 cm


Elena Raceala, Tomorow is another day, Photography

Elena Raceala

Tomorow is another day, 2019
61 x 91.4 x 0.3 cm


Mercedes Cosano, Méduses 14, Photography

Mercedes Cosano

Méduses 14, 2019
40 x 40 cm


Denis Felix, Prima I, Photography

Denis Felix

Prima I, 2020
12 x 15 cm


Baptiste Tavernier, Windows, Photography

Baptiste Tavernier

Windows, 2021
87 x 74 x 2 cm

$1,932 $2,273

William Helburn, Greenwich Village, Photography

William Helburn

Greenwich Village, 1958
137.2 x 111.8 cm


Claire Giraudeau, Urbain brutalisme, Photography

Claire Giraudeau

Urbain brutalisme, 2021
70 x 50 cm


Jean-Michel Berts, Chaises longues, Photography

Jean-Michel Berts

Chaises longues, 2017
109 x 109 x 3 cm


Jörg Krichbaum, Step by Step - Tiré à part # 1, Photography

Jörg Krichbaum

Step by Step - Tiré à part # 1, 1973
42 x 60 x 0.3 cm


Franz Winzinger, Christian Lattier Portrait, Photography

Franz Winzinger

Christian Lattier Portrait, 1953
17.5 x 16.5 cm

$821 $5,863

Bernard Copeaux, Robot, Photography

Bernard Copeaux

Robot, 1967
40 x 28 cm

$451 $3,470

Christian Lattier, Masque, Photography

Christian Lattier

Masque, 1953
23 x 17 cm

$937 $3,470

Albert Féraud, Abstraction, Photography

Albert Féraud

Abstraction, 1970
40 x 28 cm

$798 $3,470

Théo Gosselin, Lost & Found, Photography

Théo Gosselin

Lost & Found, 2019
20 x 30 x 2 cm


James Sparshatt, The southern gentleman, Photography

James Sparshatt

The southern gentleman, 2019
40 x 50 cm


Man Ray, Untitled Portrait of Female, Photography

Man Ray

Untitled Portrait of Female, 1940
25.7 x 26 cm


Julie Peiffer, 11h53 - 6,09, Crue de la Seine - Paris 2016, Photography

Julie Peiffer

11h53 - 6,09, Crue de la Seine - Paris 2016, 2016
50 x 50 cm


Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
50 x 40 cm


Our recommendations Lucien Clergue, Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, Photography

Lucien Clergue

Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, 1962
45.7 x 55.9 cm


Joanna Chudy, Oblivion. Hidden identity., Photography

Joanna Chudy

Oblivion. Hidden identity., 2019
50 x 60 cm


Yevgeniy Repiashenko, Asphodel, Photography

Yevgeniy Repiashenko

Asphodel, 2020
120 x 120 x 0.1 cm


Alain Le Chapelier, La taberna trinidad, Photography

Alain Le Chapelier

La taberna trinidad, 2018
50 x 70 x 2 cm


Our recommendations Robert Mapplethorpe, Bill T. Jones, Photography

Robert Mapplethorpe

Bill T. Jones, 1985
50.2 x 40 x 0.3 cm


Warwick Saint, Neck Tattoo, Photography

Warwick Saint

Neck Tattoo, 2010
78.7 x 63.5 cm


Aleix  Plademunt, Julia, Photography

Aleix Plademunt

Julia, 2013
40 x 30 x 5 cm


Laurent Gudin, Lamb I, Photography

Laurent Gudin

Lamb I, 2009
48 x 48 x 0.1 cm


Pierre Terrasson, Serge visant au F2 Nikon, Photography

Pierre Terrasson

Serge visant au F2 Nikon, 1984
50 x 40 cm


Bruno Fournier, Paysages forêt, Photography

Bruno Fournier

Paysages forêt, 2018
46 x 30 x 1 cm


Cécile Baldewyns, Fairy, Photography

Cécile Baldewyns

Fairy, 2014
40 x 60 cm


Fabienne Cresens, La montée des eaux, Photography

Fabienne Cresens

La montée des eaux, 2018
100 x 100 cm


Pierrot Men, Série briques, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, Photography

Pierrot Men

Série briques, Fianarantsoa, Madagascar, 2015
30 x 45 cm


Arturo Fermandois, Éclipse, Photography

Arturo Fermandois

Éclipse, 2017
40 x 50 cm


Monica Denevan, Anchor, Photography

Monica Denevan

Anchor, 2013
40 x 50 cm


Venelina Katanska, Divine, Photography

Venelina Katanska

Divine, 2015
90 x 135 cm


Maurice Tabard, Untitled, Photography

Maurice Tabard

Untitled, 1945
31.1 x 25 cm


Oriol Texidor, Manufactura 3, Photography

Oriol Texidor

Manufactura 3, 2008
40 x 50 x 7 cm


Ramon Cornadó, Diàlegs amb la natura 14, Photography

Ramon Cornadó

Diàlegs amb la natura 14, 2018
20 x 30 cm


Our recommendations Sébastien Chauchot, Céréales 3, Photography

Sébastien Chauchot

Céréales 3, 2019
40 x 35 x 1 cm

$377 $419

Sonac, Le Lama en Urbex, Photography


Le Lama en Urbex, 2018
60 x 60 cm


Leni Riefenstahl, Der Sieger (Sieger), Photography

Leni Riefenstahl

Der Sieger (Sieger), 1936
49.8 x 37.5 cm


Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

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


Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
30 x 45 cm


Baptiste Blanchett, Gotta catch'em all, Photography

Baptiste Blanchett

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


Martin Munkacsi, Untitled (Church Spire, Seville), Photography

Martin Munkacsi

Untitled (Church Spire, Seville), 1930
37.8 x 29.8 cm


Christophe Battifero, The Game, Photography

Christophe Battifero

The Game, 2020
40 x 30 x 1 cm


Leo Matiz, The Poligon, Photography

Leo Matiz

The Poligon, 1950
33 x 21.6 x 0.3 cm


Horst P. Horst, Istanbul - Untitled #5, Istanbul, 1954, Photography

Horst P. Horst

Istanbul - Untitled #5, Istanbul, 1954, 2018
39.9 x 39.9 cm


Helmut Newton, Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, Photography

Helmut Newton

Fashion Photograph, Paris 1976, 1980
41 x 27 cm


Tali Amitai-Tabib, Scarlett, Photography

Tali Amitai-Tabib

Scarlett, 2020
76.2 x 101.6 x 0.5 cm


Ludovic Careme, Mostar Bridge, Photography

Ludovic Careme

Mostar Bridge, 1995
40 x 40 cm


Ahmet Sel, Chantilly, Photography

Ahmet Sel

Chantilly, 2002
40 x 40 cm


Our recommendations Roger Ballen, Spooky Eyes, Photography

Roger Ballen

Spooky Eyes, 2012
36 x 24 x 2 cm


Shulan Wang, Moonshine, Photography

Shulan Wang

Moonshine, 2020
45 x 30 x 1 cm


Raphaël Groux, Patterning, Photography

Raphaël Groux

Patterning, 2017
50 x 50 cm


Ian Bradshaw, Reagan and the queen, Photography

Ian Bradshaw

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


Vanessa Vercel, Arc de triomphe, Photography

Vanessa Vercel

Arc de triomphe, 2020
70 x 105 x 2 cm


Our recommendations Cristina Aldehuela, Lelo 1, Photography

Cristina Aldehuela

Lelo 1, 2014
40 x 60 x 0.1 cm


Paul Citroen, Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed  in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, Photography

Paul Citroen

Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, 1930
23.7 x 18 x 0.3 cm


Wang XiaoZhou, Fleur 5, Photography

Wang XiaoZhou

Fleur 5, 2017
30 x 40 x 1 cm


Christine Chanu, Black wings, Photography

Christine Chanu

Black wings, 2021
40 x 40 cm


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