Born in Berlin in 1905, Bernhard moved to New York City in 1927, where she became a photographer. In the late 1920s, she became friends with photographer Berenice Abbott and her partner, critic Elizabeth McCausland. A few years later, she started photographing women in the nude, the art form for which she eventually would become best known. Shortly after she met photographer Edward Weston in 1935, she moved to California, where he lived, before moving back to New York four years later. After eight years she moved back to California, where she remained for the rest of her life, finally settling in San Francisco where she befriended photographers Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Minor White and Wynn Bullock.
“This is the most substantial offering of Ruth Bernard photographs ever to appear for sale,” Heritage Auctions Rare Photographs Director Nigel Russell said. “This is a unique opportunity for those who have admired her timeless female nudes or thoughtful still lifes.”
Comprising 71 lots of her elegant female nude studies and sublime still-lifes, the auction offers four complete portfolios, including The Eternal Body, 1993 ($10,000-15,000). Individual prints include Classic Torso, 1952 (estimate: $5,000-7,000), In the Box-Horizontal, San Francisco, California, 1962 (estimate: $5,000-7,000) and Spanish Dancer, 1971 (estimate: $4,000-6,000).
Bernhard’s still lifes are represented by Two Leaves, Hollywood, California, 1952 (estimate: $3,000-5,000), Eighth Street Movie Theater, Frederick Kiesler-Architect, New York, 1946 (estimate: $3,000-5,000) and Angelwing, New York, 1943 (estimate: $3,000-5,000).
Classics from Ansel Adams include Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1941 (estimate: $30,000-50,000), Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada, From Line Pine, California, 1944 (estimate: $25,000-35,000) and seven prints from Portfolio Four What Majestic Word, which will be offered as individual lots, with estimates ranging from $5,000-7,000 to $1,500-2,500.
Helmut Newton photographs include Self-Portrait with Wife and Models (Vogue Studios), Paris, 1980 (estimate: $12,000-18,000), Kiss, Bordighera, 1982 (estimate: $7,000-10,000) and Hands, Bordighera, 1982 ($6,000-8,000).
Also featured are David Yarrow’s striking The Wolf of Main Street, 2015, even more impressive in this massive 55-3/4 x 99-1/2 inches print (estimate: $20,000-30,000) and Lee Friedlander’s graphic Nude (Madonna), 1979 ($10,000-15,000).
Contemporary photography is represented by Andrew Moore Industria, Havana, Cuba, 1998 (estimate: $6,000-$8,000); Nan Goldin Suzanne with Mona Lisa, Mexico City, 1981 (estimate: $6,000-8,000) and Wim Wenders Holy Figure, Toshodaiji Temple, Nara, Japan, 2000 (estimate: $4,000-$6,000) and three prints from Thomas Ruff’s Nudes series, each of which carries a pre-auction estimate of $1,500-2,500.
Also included are six lots by Henri Cartier-Bresson including Brussels. Belgium, 1932 (estimate: $5,000-7,000), Valence, Espagne, 1933 (estimate: $3,000-5,000) and Aquila, Abruzzi, Italy, 1955 (estimate: $3,000-5,000).
Other highlights include, but are not limited to:
· Robert Mapplethorpe’s Lydia Cheng, 1985 (estimate: $30,000-50,000)
· A vintage print of Edward Weston’s Dunes, Oceano, 1936 (estimate: $15,000-20,000)
· Lawrence Schiller’s Marilyn and Me Portfolio of 12 works (estimate: $20,000-30,000)
· Seven gelatin silver photos by Andy Warhol, including Andy Warhol on a Seaplane in Montauk, 1982 (estimate: $5,000-7,000)
· 11 lots by Marion Post Wolcott, the top two of which carry a pre-auction estimate of $2,000-3,000
· Six lots by Aaron Siskind and his students documenting the work of architect Louis Sullivan, including Two Views of the Wainwright Building, St. Louis, Missouri (2 works) (estimate: $2,500-3,500)
· Four Polaroids by Andy Warhol (three of which carry an estimate of $2,000-3,000)
“Once again, Heritage Auctions is offering a diverse selection of photographs,” Russell said, “many of which rarely appear on the market.”