Ruth Bernhard*

20.12.2011 in10:06 in Art, Design -->


Ruth Bernhard is perhaps best known for her black-and-white view camera pictures of nudes, still lifes, and natural forms, notably seashells and found objects. She is also remembered as a pioneering woman in photography, though Bernhard herself lays no claim to such titles. Rather, the photographer prefers to think of her students as her legacy and of herself as a gardener of young minds. She believes in “the celebration of the commonplace,” and her delight in the world is as much a trademark of her work as her painstaking lighting. The 1945 photograph Skull and Rosary demonstrates how her mastery of light is used to support and develop her philosophic concerns. In May of 1989 Bernhard said of the piece, “I have always had a deep awareness of the perfection of the skull as the protective cavity for the brain – the vessel of our universal intelligence. Unexpectedly, in my studio one night, I knew I had to make this image. It was impulsive, inevitable! Life and Death are here represented by the deer skull and the rosary.”