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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transcendental Connections, 10 May 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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For those who are interested in inspiring portrayal of the human body, this book is a must! It is one of the finest collections of female nudes ever done. The images, reproduction, and paper are all superb. The book clearly deserves more than five stars!
The images in this book would garner an R rating if the book were a motion picture.
Ms. Bernhard takes a different approach to nude photography, partly in reaction to the exploitive work that some men do. She says, "I photograph a woman as part of the universe." She feels that "a minute insect, a mountain range, a human body -- all share equal significance." As a result she notes that "much of my work shares a similar intention [to a Japanese Haiku]." She wants to "illuminate the innate life force and spirit as well as the underlying remarkable bone structure." She looks on these photographs as being similar to the problem of composing a still life. She wants to create a "heightened emotional response" and is "deeply aware of my spiritual connection with it." She is responding to a "great yearning for balance and harmony beyond the realm of human experience, reaching for the essence of oneness with the Universe."
Margaretta Mitchell (no relation) points out that the work stands primarily for going "beyond cultural stereotypes of women." In doing so, Ms. Bernhard has created "focused meditations." She "directs her forms with studio lighting where the model is transfigured by light into sculpture." As a result, you see an "ideal radiant form." She is one of the "masters of the subtleties of lighting." The work evokes much of the majesty of Michaelangelo, Rodin, and Henry Moore.
Finally, from Ms. Bernhard, "The female body is the bearer of new life, it is so very innocent."
You will come away from seeing these images refreshed and reawakened.
My favorites here include: At the Pool, 1951; Dancer in Repose, 1951; Draped Torso, 1962; In the Box, Horizontal, 1962; Two Forms, 1963; Perspective II, 1967; Sand Dune, 1967; Profile, 1967; Transparent, 1968; Dream Figure, 1968; Rice Paper, 1969; Hourglass, 1971; Balancing, 1971; Spanish Dancer, 1971; Symbiosis, 1971; In the Window, 1971; and Resting, 1972.
Many of these images use the human body to evoke nature, our connection to nature, and the similarity of forms throughout nature. For example, in Sand Dune a woman's body is transformed into a landscape.
After you have enjoyed this great book, I suggest that you consider where else you can see connections from one person to another, and from people to objects and vice versa. That can expand your enjoyment of all that surrounds you, as well as open you to experiencing more joy.
Look for the eternal in all you examine!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An eternal collection?, 29 Oct. 2013
By 
Angus Jenkinson "angusjenkinson" (Cambridgeshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc (Hardcover)
"My enjoyment of life began with my eyes. Even as a small child, curiosity possessed me. The visible and invisible were my world, my fairy tale." Thus begins the preface by Ruth Bernhard to her book, which is reprinted from the original 1986 edition with additional texts. She remarks that in her 80th year, the magic continues to linger, the commonplaces revealed to be utterly incredible. Over her very long life from the 1930s, when she was almost 30, into the 1970s she took meditative studied images of studio nudes, with carefully contemplated lighting that at their best produce wonderfully balanced and nuanced sculptural living forms. She talks about approaching her work "with patience and reverence". She seeks to indicate "ideal proportion, to reveal sculptural mass and the dominating spirit".

The approach to the nude has been difficult and controversial for more than a century, perhaps for many centuries. In the 20th century, women and men revolted rightly against an approach to the female nude that was often possessive, objectifying, demeaning or exploitative. But these are photographs of women by a woman - and indeed a number of them featured in the 1964 publication The History of the Nude in Photography, in which she was the only female artist represented. For a number of decades in the 20th century, the nude became off limit for many painters, only remaining a common feature in photography. The challenge however was to create artistic images with meaning rather than merely pretty or sexy captures of a body. Edward Weston, whose inspiration led Bernhard to a radical reappraisal of the possibilities of being an intuitive artist, approached this by moving from a pictorialist (soft, romantic images echoing painting) to a modernist approach (sharp, formal), often emphasising individual parts of the body. Bernhard learns from this but takes a softer more romantic approach.

Bernhard indignantly protested against the work of some male artists: "There was a girl on a stool flirting... She was supposed to be pleasing to everyone. It made me mad!... I wanted to express the dignity and simplicity of what it is like to BE a woman." She has therefore no objection whatsoever to the portrayal of the nude. Her objection is to the manner in which it is done. For her, "The human body represents the same universal innocence, timelessness, and purity of all seedpods."

She says, of being with Weston, that, "Time became timeless." This is a quality she then expresses in her best work. Bernhard's technique is focused on masterly control of studio lighting. She would spend days trying out and rehearsing lighting for a single image, especially when money was tight. This mastery can be seen, for example in Perspective II (plate 26), where light and shadow flow over a recumbent form, producing a musical line that also echoes a soft hilly landscape - a comparison consciously evoked in an image from the same series, Sand Dune (Plate 27). In the Window (Plate 44, 1971) is a marvellously gentle can template of image contrasting the fluid living form with the soft lines of background drapes. Light is also beautifully used in the 1952 image, Classic Torso which looks like a Duotone (it would have been helpful to know the printing formats; most seem to be gelatin silver) or in the softly luminous Folding (Plate 21, 1962). The 1962 image, Draped Torso (Plate 17), like many others has a luminous quality that does indeed reveal the living's of the body - clearly something that she was looking for. Perhaps the draped images evoke something of the Chinese Chi, or life body. At any rate, these images do indeed "transform the complexities of the figure into harmonies of simplified form, illuminating the innate life force and spirit as well as the underlying bone structure", which was her ambition.

There are many remarkable images in this collection, mythic, beautifully composed forms and lines, right from her early 1934 masterpiece, In the Circle, which is a perfect example of Christopher Alexander's notion of "the centre" or centres, as the focus of design. But there are also a few images that seem strange. There were some that were perhaps experimental and deliberately overexposed - Abstract Torso (Plate 7), for example, or Dream Figure (Plate 32), where the generally soft amorphous image has two burned centres (i.e. two blocks of pure white, either overexposed or accidentally `burned' in printing). They don't seem to me to belong to the same body of work. It is to be anticipated that she would indeed experiment and that some images would not perfectly work, but I'm not convinced they add to the collection. And then there are a number of other experimental forms including double exposures, which work with varying levels of success. Veiled Black (1974, Plate 48) has a dreamlike quality, as does In the Wave, in 1945 double exposure of a woman seemingly lying within the flow of a river. On the other hand, Harvest, with images of wheat double exposed over the pregnant torso of a woman, seems somewhat clichéd.

But overall, a marvellous collection. Literally.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Photography at its best., 24 Aug. 2014
By 
D. Richards (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc (Hardcover)
A beautifully presented book with stunning photographs by a remarkably talented photographer. This book should be on every photographer's bookshelf.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful photographs of the female form, 7 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc (Hardcover)
I have no knowledge of photography whatsoever but I got this book as a present for my partner who is big into photography. I did a bit of research on the photographer before buying the book as I wanted to make sure the photos were tasteful and not an excuse to show naked women (some females out there would know what I'm talking about); the artist is obviously a woman and according to some sources she was also a lesbian which, in my book, is a plus, so I decided to buy her book. I had a chance to flick through the pages before wrapping it and I was very pleasantly surprise by the beauty of the photographs. The book made a lovely present, there is some information about the photographer in addition to the photograph work, and some other text which I didn't have a chance to read (maybe commentaries from some others photographers, not sure). All the photos are in black and white. The quality of the paper is very good. The book is hard cover and not too big in size. It would make a nice coffee table book for the braves ones that is! Unfortunately I cannot comment on the photographs per se as I know nothing about photography, but from the general public perspective that I would classify myself, I would say that the photographs were those of beautiful women taken some of them is very un-usual poses, all very tasteful and really celebrating the female form. My boyfriend was very happy with the present and to keep it gender neutral, I told him that next year for Xmas he will be getting a book about the male form. He was not that impressed with this:-) In a more serious note, I would recommend this book for those who love photography and also love the female body.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book from an excellent photographer., 17 April 2013
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This review is from: Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc (Hardcover)
Ruth Bernard is a photography icon. Her nudes and body studies set a trend for all modern photographers. This book is excellent at showing her iconic work in great quality. A must have in my humble opinion. Get it while it is cheap!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 14 Jun. 2013
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The work of the photographer is stunning and the presentation of the material by the publishers is aesthetically lovely. Well worth the purchase
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 July 2013
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This review is from: Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc (Hardcover)
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Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc
Ruth Bernhard:Eternal Body 2011 hc by Chronicle Books (Hardcover - 1 Sept. 2011)
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