Works by Ruth Bernhard at Sotheby's
Ruth Bernhard Biography
An early evangelist of black and white photography, Ruth Bernhard’s nude portraits are a celebration of queerness and feminism. Born in Berlin in 1905, Bernhard would later move to New York City in 1927 where they would embrace the lesbian scene in Manhattan. Later Bernhard would move to California, producing their work at the same time as the other black and white photographers, notably Ansel Adams.
Bernhard is best known for her intimate, nude photographs of women, which would become her calling card. The posing of the figures is often seen as surrealist, and she is credited for being one of the earliest photographers of the movement. Bernhard was welcomed into the National Women’s Caucus for Art in 1981 and created an autobiographical film titled Illuminations: Ruth Bernhard, Photographer. She passed away in San Francisco in 2006, but the work they did to legitimize black and white photography and her reclaiming of the female nude persists far beyond Bernhard’s life.Read Less