Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life

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Hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude," Ruth Bernhard is an icon in the photographic world. As told by Ruth in countless conversations with close friend and biographer Margaretta Mitchell, this thoughtful, illustrated memoir is a true tribute to the legendary artist. Reminiscent of a personal scrapbook, the engaging text is adorned with an abundance of fascinating memorabilia and nostalgic snapshots. Woven throughout is correspondence between Ruth and her mentor Edward Weston, as well as...
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Overview

Hailed by Ansel Adams as "the greatest photographer of the nude," Ruth Bernhard is an icon in the photographic world. As told by Ruth in countless conversations with close friend and biographer Margaretta Mitchell, this thoughtful, illustrated memoir is a true tribute to the legendary artist. Reminiscent of a personal scrapbook, the engaging text is adorned with an abundance of fascinating memorabilia and nostalgic snapshots. Woven throughout is correspondence between Ruth and her mentor Edward Weston, as well as interviews with friends, colleagues, students, and her long-time printer. Also included is a special section entitled "Workshop," which surveys Ruth's acclaimed teaching methods. Coinciding with an exhibition in honor of Ruth's 95th birthday, Ruth Bernhard: Between Life and Art is a beautiful celebration of an extraordinary woman.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Mitchell (author and photographer) provides a short biography of the photographer, and an essay on this collection (first published in 1986). However, the photos are the main draw of the work; the fifty nudes, each a study in light and form, are reproduced in full page (the book is slightly oversize at 11.5x12<">), good quality reproductions. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811821919
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 9/28/2000
  • Series: Art Series
  • Pages: 172
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaretta Mitchell first became interested in Ruth Bernhard's work in 1979 while preparing for her book, Recollections: Ten Women of Photography, and curating the traveling exhibition which followed. A dedicated photographer herself, Mitchell is the author of Gift of Place and co-author with Dorothea Lange of To a Cabin.
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Table of Contents

Foreword 6
Introduction 9
My Life 21
Coming of Age 49
Giving My Heart to Photography 63
San Francisco 91
Teaching 119
Voices 138
Afterword 152
Selected Lectures and Accolades 153
Acknowledgments 154
Selected Exhibitions 155
Beloved Edward/Darling Ruth 156
Index 158
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2001

    Memoir of an Unwanted Child Who Became a Great Artist

    I am a great admirer of Ruth Bernhard's work. Her photographic books often refer to her father's lack of sympathy for her, but it was shocking to realize how poorly both of her parents treated her. As a result, it was incredibly heart-warming to realize that she had forgiven both of them. The book goes on to detail a woman who mostly raised herself and became an outstanding contributor both as an artist and as a teacher. The book contains many photographs of Ms. Bernhard, her family, and her work. The memoir is a perfect complement to her books of photographic images such as the remarkable, The Eternal Body. This book is based on recorded conversations between Ms. Margaretta Mitchell (no relation) and Ms. Bernhard when Ms. Bernhard was well past 90. So the main outlines of her life are there, but many of the details are fuzzy. Ms. Bernhard's parents were divorced when she was two. She could not remember seeing her mother until she was nine. Closer to her father, he too was distant. 'Really, he didn't like children at all.' On the other hand, her father, 'Lucian Bernhard was the most important person in my life until I met Edward Weston.' Through most of her life, she 'wanted to be her father, the artist.' Lucian Bernhard was a graphic artist who later expanded into painting and sculpture. He was known as the 'father of the German poster.' He was exceptionally precise and punctilious in all aspects of his life. Both of his marriages seem to have been severely troubled, and he seemed emotionally barren. Financially, he was supportive of his daughter, even though he was a disaster in failing to provide a shoulder to lean on. Both of her parents remarried, but those new marriages produced siblings and step-parents who made things more difficult for Ms. Bernhard. She could really relate to all of those fairy tales about evil step-mothers. One of the saddest moments in the book comes when she recounts how her mother passed up a chance to see her one last time in order to tend to her dogs instead. As a result of seeing these marriages, 'I never considered marriage for myself.' She did have loving relations with both men and women that provided her an emotional foundation that childhood did not. The book also recounts how she took photographs of nude models for her father's illustrations and posed nude for one of her first lovers. These experiences gave her a special sense of the model's perspective in nudes that made her work surpass everyone else. Ansel Adams called her 'the greatest photographer of the nude.' More details about her relationship with Edward Weston are provided here than I have seen elsewhere, including some correspondence published for the first time. 'When I first saw Weston's work, I burst into tears.' This was the first time that the potential of photography to become art became clear to her. Although she admired his work and had a terrific relationship with him, it was flirtation rather than indescretion. Mrs. Weston saw her as a rival, though. In this book, Ms. Bernhard notes that she came to see the flaws in the way Weston did his nudes . . . manipulating the models in ways that she finds inappropriate. You will find these comments to be interesting when you compare the works of the two photographers. I think Ms. Bernhard definitely has the better work of the two with nudes. I especially enjoyed the section on her teaching, and the ending of her career in taking photographs. You will also learn about the carbon monoxide poisoning that affected her health during her later years. I came away with even greater admiration for Ms. Bernhard than I could ever have imagined. She is a marvel for having transformed her personal pain into so much beauty for us all. When she said, 'light is the real teacher' I think that she was modestly saying that whatever she learned, she taught herself. After you read this story, I suggest that you think about how you can take events and ci

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