Ruth Bernhard’s Nude in Box


This photo by Ruth Bernhard is currently on display at the Portland Art Museum. In it’s original print size, it’s very compelling, sensuous, and yet surreal. As I thought about it, I began to wonder…surely I’ve seen this image before. Where??

Oh that’s right, it was stolen for the not-very-good Boxing Helena movie.
Ruth Bernhard had a fascinating life. She was born in Berlin, studied art there too, moved to NYC, got involved with photography, had both female and male lovers, focused a lot of her work on the female nude, and died in San Francisco at 101. That’s a long life.

“If I have chosen the female form in particular, it is because beauty has been debased and exploited in our sensual 20th century,” she told Margaretta K. Mitchell, author of “Ruth Bernhard: Between Art and Life” (2000). “Woman has been the subject of much that is sordid and cheap, especially in photography. To raise, to elevate, to endorse with timeless reverence the image of woman has been my mission.”

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