© Photograph Courtesy John Reiff Williams

Each time I make a photograph I celebrate the life I love and the beauty I know and the
happiness I have experienced. All my photographs are made like that..
 ~Ruth Bernhard

Soulcatcher Studio is honored to be able to offer you these fine photographs. We are proud to have joined in the celebration of Ruth Bernhard’s 100th birthday with our special retrospective exhibition, Ruth Bernhard: Eternal Gifts. Hailed by Ansel Adams as “the greatest photographer of the nude,” Ruth Bernhard lived a life that spanned a century of passionate, ceaseless exploration of the magic of light to create form.

Ruth Bernhard was born on October 14, 1905 in Werder, Germany, near Berlin. Daughter of the legendary graphic artist and type designer Lucian Bernhard, Ruth moved from her native Germany to New York at the age of twenty-one. There, her…artistic life blossomed among the designers and artists of the new modernist movement who inhabited the vibrant cultural center that was New York in the thirties. A 1935 encounter in California with photographer Edward Weston led to her passion for photography as an artistic medium, and thus began her unending commitment to the making of exquisitely perfected photographs. The first image she made after meeting Weston, “Creation, 1936”, a hand cradling a doll’s head, remains her favorite. “When I am working on a still life,” she later explained, “it might be days before I make an exposure, and then it will be only one negative.”

Ruth’s photography began appearing in print in the early 1930s, and in the June 1939 issue of U.S. Camera, she was “the American Aces” cover story. By that time, she had produced work on many subjects: children, shells, animals, dolls, still lifes, and nudes. Ruth’s first photograph of the nude was in 1934, but she did not begin concentrating on the genre until the 1950s and 60s. Bernhard worked for decades in a male-dominated field before her own achievements were appreciated. At a time when women were rarely acknowledged in photography, Ruth carved out her own trademark style.

Bernhard was a pioneer, photographing the nude long before contemporary society accepted freedom of expression about the naked body. This individuality combined with great wisdom has attracted generations of devoted students. For over forty years Ruth enjoyed a distinguished career as a revered workshop teacher and lecturer. During her lifetime she had more than 200 exhibitions around the world and innumerable books have reproduced her images. Since 1996, her works have become part of the permanent archive of Princeton University.

Ruth Bernhard died on December 18, 2006 at her home in San Francisco, California.

Each time I make a photograph I celebrate the life I love and the beauty I know and the happiness I have experienced. All my photographs are made like that ~ responding to my intuition… After all these years, I am still motivated by the radiance that light creates when it transforms an object into something magical. What the eye sees is an illusion of what is real. The black-and-white image is yet another transformation. What exactly exists, we may never know.” ~Ruth Bernhard

Print Information: All photographic prints are archivally processed gelatin silver prints made from original photographic negatives, printed under supervision of the artist. Prints are dry-mounted on 16×20″ 2-ply, acid-free mat board. They are signed in pencil on the front of the mount at the lower right corner of the print. They are also signed in pencil on the back of the mount. A Bernhard Studio stamp in ink also appears on the back of the mount. No digital manipulation is used at any stage of the process.

Prints are available in two standard paper sizes: 8×10″ and 11×14″. For both technical and aesthetic reasons, not all images are available in all sizes (please inquire). Actual image sizes vary from that of the standard paper size.

Prints are produced in an open, unnumbered edition. Current prices depend upon the individual image and print size.

Click here to view Ruth Bernhard: Eternal Gifts, our special retrospective
exhibition and sale of Ruth Bernhard’s fine art photographs

All artwork is copyright © of the respective artist or estate. All rights reserved.
Biographical information from the book, Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life, by Margaretta Mitchell.
Copyright © Margaretta Mitchell; Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2000. All rights reserved.

Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life is available in our bookstore, along with other signed titles by this artist.

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