Ruth Bernhard - Nude inside the Box - Original Poster
Signed and Numbered 1/18
frame size 32 x 24"
paper size 19 x 10"
Ruth Bernhard, whose classical black-and-white photographs of the female nude and inanimate objects earned her a place of distinction among 20th-century photographers, died on Monday at her home in San Francisco. She was 101.The San Francisco medical examiner's office said her death was of natural causes.Ms. Bernhard was known primarily for her dramatically lighted nude studies, which expressed her interest in abstract shape and form. ''My quest, through the magic of light and shadow, is to isolate, to simplify and to give emphasis to form with the greatest clarity,'' she said. ''To indicate the ideal proportion, and reveal sculptural mass and the dominating spirit, is my goal.''
In 1935 a chance meeting with the photographer Edward Weston on the beach in Santa Monica, Calif., altered the course of Ms. Bernhard's life. He became her mentor, and she studied with him for years. Seeing his pictures for the first time, she said, was a revelation. ''It was lightning in the darkness,'' she said. ''Here before me was indisputable evidence of what I had thought possible -- an intensely vital artist whose medium was photography.''In the 1940s Ms. Bernhard became part of Group f/64, joining Modernist West Coast photographers like Weston, Ansel Adams, Minor White, Imogen Cunningham, Wynn Bullock and Dorothea Lange. All took a purist approach to their subjects. Their work is characterized by photographic clarity and detailed precision.Weston's influence, in particular, on Ms. Bernhard's work is evident from the compositional simplicity of his own nude studies and still lifes of organic objects like shells and peppers.Ms. Bernhard photographed almost exclusively in the studio. She was known to take a single picture from one specific angle after setting up a composition meticulously, sometimes over days.''If I have chosen the female form in particular, it is because beauty has been debased and exploited in our sensual 20th century,'' she told Margaretta K. Mitchell, author of Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life' (2000). ''Woman has been the subject of much that is sordid and cheap, especially in photography. To raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the image of woman has been my mission.''She supported herself by holding private classes in her studio and leading workshops. She published several books of photographs, and her work is in collections at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.Ruth Bernhard was born in Berlin in 1905. Her parents, Lucian and Gertrud, divorced when she was 2, and her father brought her up with the help of two teachers, both women, in their 40s. A graphic designer and typographer, her father was known for designing the font Bernhard, which is still in use. He married again and had four children. Two half-brothers -- Karl, of Afton, N.Y., and Alexander, of London -- survive her.Ms. Bernhard followed her father to New York in 1927 after she completed two years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin. She began photographing the female nude in the early 1930s and eventually became acquainted with Berenice Abbott and her artistic circle. She also supported herself with commercial photographic assignments.In the early 1940s Ms. Bernhard became involved with an artist and designer, Eveline Phimister, and for the next 10 years they lived together in New York, then in Carmel, Calif.; Los Angeles; and San Francisco, which became Ms. Bernhard's permanent home in 1953.In 1967 she became involved with an Air Force colonel, Price Rice, 10 years her junior. She remained with him until his death in 1999. Ms. Bernhard talked openly in Ms. Mitchell's book about her many affairs with men and women. ''I allowed life to give me presents,'' she told Ms. Mitchell. ''And everything just sort of happened the way it was supposed to happen. I did not pursue anything. It more or less pursued me.''
Excellent - Minor wear consistent with age and history