A Biography of Ruth-Marion Baruch

Photographer and poet Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922-1997) was born in Berlin, Germany. Along with her parents, she emigrated to New York City in 1927. Baruch received two undergraduate degrees from the University of Missouri in 1944, one in creative writing and literary criticism and the other from the School of Journalism.

During the summer of 1945, working on her thesis, Baruch spent almost a month with Edward Weston in Carmel, California and met Ansel Adams. Weston is noted as one of the most important photographers in the history of the medium. She is believed to have been the first woman in the US to receive a Masters of Fine Arts in Photography from Ohio University in 1946, writing her thesis on Edward Weston: The Man, The Artist and the Photographer. Ruth-Marion attended the first class at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) with her future husband the photographer Pirkle Jones, studying with Ansel Adams, Minor White, Homer Page and Edward Weston.

In 1961, Baruch worked on two photographic essays. Walnut Grove: Portrait of a Town in collaboration with Pirkle Jones, a documentary of a small racially diverse community displaced by the freeway on the Sacramento River Delta and exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1964. The second essay Illusion for Sale was comprised of images of women shopping in Union Square, San Francisco, unaware of being photographed in their search for personal identity through consumerism. This work was exhibited in 1996 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Baruch photographed the Haight-Ashbury in 1967 during the Summer of Love; this work was exhibited at the M.H. De Young Museum. In 1968, Ruth-Marion Baruch had the inspiration for and facilitated A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers with Pirkle Jones, which was exhibited at the M.H. De Young Museum in San Francisco, Studio Museum of Harlem (New York), Dartmouth College (New Hampshire) This essay is a definitive documentary of a movement which had wide repercussions on American social, political, and cultural life. Their book The Vanguard, A Photographic Essay on the Black Panthers was published in 1970. Ruth-Marion Baruch continued to photograph, exhibit and write during the 1970 and 1980s. Social consciousness permeated Baruchs work most of her career, her sense of moral commitment is very evident in her remarkable images of people, places and things.

Baruch's photography has been exhibited around the country including The Museum of Modern Art (New York), The Los Angeles County Museum of Art and The Amon Carter Museum (Texas). Her work is represented in major institutions including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, (Rochester), the Center for Creative Photography (Tucson), The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago), Polaroid Corporation, (Cambridge, MA) and the Oakland Museum. (Oakland, CA)

A book of her poetry A Dangerous Thing was published in September 2002 by Apollo Press and Black Panthers 1968 in collaboration with Pirkle Jones, with an essay by Kathleen Cleaver was published by Greybull Press in October 2002.


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