For Students

Past Exhibitions: 2001

In Human Touch: Photographs by Ernestine Ruben

June 10 - September 23, 2001

Ernestine Ruben
Choke (detail)
gelatin silver print

Since turning to fine art photography in the late 1970s, Ernestine Ruben has created a remarkable body of work, astonishing in its breadth of subject matter, technique, and emotional range. As this retrospective selection of her work and the accompanying essays make clear, Ernestine Ruben both celebrates and advances the history of the photographic image, all the while remaining passionately committed to visual pleasure and a delight in the beauty of the world around her. A fascination with antiquarian processes and media such as platinum printing and gum bichromate has led to some of her most dramatic work, extraordinarily painterly monotype images/view that effectively bridge the divide between formalist and postmodern photography.

Betraying a restless energy and a straining against the traditional limitations of the photograph, Ruben takes an uncanonical approach to the human form, to the body in motion, and to landscape, both built and natural. Informed by a love for sculpture and a gift for conveying mood, her images/view empower the viewer and invite participation in the act of seeing. Whether capturing lyrically rendered, highly abstract fragments of the body or a fresh perspective on a familiar landscape, Ernestine Ruben's lens has a humanizing touch.

In Human Touch is accompanied by a fully-illustrated monograph published by Nazraeli Press, edited by UMMA Director James Steward with contributions by New York Times columnist Lyle Rexer, Parisian psychoanalytic critic Serge Tisseron, and Steward. This important volume explores the place of Ruben's work in the history of photography, examining its influences and sources. Retailing for $65.00, it may be purchased in the Museum Shop, or by calling the Shop at 734.647.0521. It is also available through Nazraeli Press at 1.520.798.1530 (fax 520.798.1514, website

The exhibition has been made possible by the Friends of the Museum of Art, with additional support for companion educational programs from the Katherine Tuck Enrichment Fund.


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