Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ruth Bernhard, Doorknob

The piece of the week is Ruth Bernhard's Doorknob of 1975. The museum acquired this gelatin silver print in 2005 by the work of the late great Terry Toedtemeier. Dan Wark recalls Terry talking about this image, excitedly explaining how Bernhardt had seen the light hit the knob that way, how she hadn't managed to capture the shot with the sun moving as it tends to do. She watched that spot for an entire year until the day came when the sun hit the doorknob again, producing the shot just as she'd remembered.
Bernhardt was born in 1905, ten years after Dorothea Lange and 22 years after Imogen Cunningham- all were members of group f.64 a modernist group of photographers in california in the 1930's. I mention these other women because I have had the great pleasure of seeing their work recently. On a trip I took to Seattle a few weekends ago I saw the photography of Cunningham. Sometimes, for me, the measure of a good museum is how long I am in it before I shed a tear. At SAM it took until I was face to face with Frida Kahlo, shot by Imogen Cunningham in 1931.
Today I had the good fortune of hearing Linda Gordon speak on the PSU campus about the show that opens tonight at the Littman Gallery presenting over 30 of Dorothea Lange's WPA prints from Oregon shot during the depression. I didn't even have to get beyond the slideshow before the tears hit.
I'm looking forward to a week of feeling blessed to be a woman.

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