“For me a real photograph is an image mechanically contrived or conceived by its taker in such a way that it mysteriously becomes a potent fact in its own right - though only with the help of things just beyond his perception or control. It is also like any other proper picture in that nothing can be either added or taken away from it without diminishing it.”
- Bruce Bernard
Bruce Bernard was both a leading curator and editor, he was also an extraordinary photographer in his own right, a fact recognised two years after his death, by Tate Britain, in their exhibition ‘Bruce Bernard: Photographs of Painters’.
Born in 1928 Bernard’s father was a scenic designer for operas and his mother was a singer. He moved from school to school throughout his youth meeting Lucian Freud when he was about fourteen – the beginning of a life long friendship. After school he studied painting at St Martins from there drifting on to Soho. Originally a painter he produced little in this medium despite having a studio for this purpose. Photographs however he took constantly, documenting the Bohemian scene of which he was a stalwart member. Francis Bacon he met in 1949.
Bernard photographed Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach and Euan Uglow. They are fascinating portraits for being those of an insider - portraits of the men with whom he regularly met to drink and socialise. Artists, who, despite the renowned privacy of their studios, admitted him into their creative spaces.