Ruth Bernhard

The Eternal Nude

July 12 - September 20, 2014

Peter Fetterman Gallery is pleased to present two exhibitions of original photographs by American photographer Robert Stivers and 20th Century icon Ruth Bernhard. The simultaneous exhibitions of contemporary and modern works provide a broad coverage of each artist’s oeuvre. An opening reception will be held with artist Robert Stivers on Saturday July 12, from 5-8pm. 
In the second exhibition at Peter Fetterman Gallery by Robert Stivers (American, b. 1953), Gelatin silver and Platinum prints provide a curated retrospective spanning the artist’s 25-year career. Photographs of mysterious figures, botanicals and nebulous spaces along with earlier works are all connected by a continual visual mystery and muted beauty. Early “Series 5” prints from Stivers’ first monograph Robert Stivers: Photographs (Arena Editions, 1997) display an intentional loss of focus achieved in the printing process showing figures faded into a carbon-black void. Photographs from “Series 9” feature rich bronze-toned prints of frayed objects and dream-like scenarios from Listening to Cement (Arena Editions, 2000) and Sestina (Camera Work AG, 2003), while “Series 10” works created for the exhibition study peculiar objects and botanicals with a “distressed” printing process. Large platinum and pigment prints as well as a series of experimental unique gelatin silver prints highlight current projects by the artist in anticipation of his forthcoming monograph, The Art of Ruin (Twin Palms, 2014, Essay by Steve Brown). 
For many of his works, Stivers begins with a sharply focused negative that is then manipulated in the printing process causing intentional loss of clarity to achieve sensual, dream-like images akin to early Pictorialism at the turn of the 20th Century. The works on view exhibit themes of emotional anxiety, memory and time through a blurring of reality and visual identity. Robert Stivers studied at the University of California, Irvine (1976), earned his M.A. at New York University (1980), and has exhibited internationally since the early 1990’s. His work is in collections of the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, France; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, AZ; George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Iconic nudes and rare still-lifes from the gallery’s collection by Ruth Bernhard (Germany, 1905 – 2006) will be exhibited in the adjacent gallery space.  Regarded as one the greatest photographers of the female nude, Bernhard’s images are praised for their elegant study of the female form displayed in exquisitely printed traditional gelatin silver photographs. Prints exhibited include seminal works such as Classic Torso, 1952 and In the box horizontal, 1962 as well as more rarely seen later studies like Symbiosis, 1971. Dramatic use of light and abstraction of the body create images of unique expression beyond eroticism or fantasy. In addition to nudes, several still-lifes display Bernhard’s clear recognition of form and sensuality in objects and spaces apart from the body. Often surrealist though sharply focused, this rarely exhibited side of Bernhard’s photography presents an increasingly rare medium of masterful darkroom printing. 
Bernhard is associated with the history of Northern California’s wealth of eminent photographers including Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange and Minor White. In a career spanning more than seven decades, she created an imposing body of work. Distinguished by their exquisite use of light, her images have been internationally recognized and acclaimed by her peers. Radiant still-lifes and nude forms reflect her passionate search for the universal connection of all things. Bernhard’s work has been exhibited and included in the permanent collections of major museums and universities in the United States, Europe, Japan, and Mexico, and has been published worldwide.