Ruth Bernhard: Photographies
An expansive survey of the West Coast School’s lauded virtuoso of nude portraiture and still life.
Ruth Bernhard (1905–2006) was an icon of the legendary West Coast School of photography, whose ranks included Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham and Dorothea Lange. This catalog—spanning over four decades of Bernhard’s life, as she moved between Berlin, New York, Hollywood and San Francisco—is the first to present a vast cross-section of her lustrous black-and-white photography. Although her oeuvre reveals various formal evolutions, the essence of her style is characterized by psychologically trenchant close-ups and extreme interactions between light and shadow. She drew inspiration from everyday objects but is best known for her photographs of female nudes. Ansel Adam dubbed her the “greatest nude photographer ever”—astounding praise for a woman photographer of her time to receive but well deserved. Indeed, Bernhard was one of the first photographers to emancipate the nude from the male gaze.