Bruce Bernard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bruce Bernard (/bərˈnɑːrd/;[1] 21 March 1928 – 29 March 2000) was an English picture editor, writer and photographer. He wrote for the Sunday Times and the Independent and photographed many influential artists in a career lasting nearly 40 years.

Early life and education[edit]

Bernard was born in London, and was the middle of three sons to the English architect Oliver Percy Bernard and his opera singer wife Dora Hodges (d. 1950), who performed under the name of Fedora Roselli. His siblings were the poet Oliver Bernard, and the columnist Jeffrey Bernard.[2] Through his paternal ancestry, Bernard was a third cousin to the actor Stanley Holloway[3] (Bernard's grandfather Charles (d.1894) was a brother to Holloway's maternal grandmother). Owing to this, he was distantly related to Holloway's son, the actor Julian Holloway and Julian's daughter, the author and former model, Sophie Dahl.[4]

Bernard had brief spells at a number of boarding schools, eventually finishing at Bedales School.[5] From there he attended, albeit briefly, St Martin's School of Art, before falling into a number of menial jobs within London's Soho. He became a picture editor for History Of the 20th Century in 1968 before moving to the Sunday Times's magazine as a picture researcher in 1972; he later became the paper's picture editor, a post he held until 1980. It was during this time that he produced Photodiscovery: Masterworks of Photography 1840-1940, which became his most successful work.[6]


He left the Sunday Times and joined The Independent where he wrote for the paper's magazine. He wrote Vincent By Himself,[7] about the painter Vincent Van Gogh. The book juxtaposed Van Gogh's paintings and drawings and featured excerpts from the letters to the painter's brother, Theo Van Gogh. He also frequently wrote short articles under pseudonyms, including Joe Hodges and Deirdre Pugh, for the Independent.[2]

Writing for The Independent, the columnist Adrian Searle commented: "[Bernard] had a shrewd, passionate eye, and was possessed of one of the most acute bullshit detectors I have ever encountered."[2]

In 1994 Bernard curated a photographic exhibition for the Barbican Centre gallery. His portraits included those of Leigh Bowery, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, and Euan Uglow. The photographer John Riddy opined that "Bernard's portraits of British artists are the only one's [sic] to escape cliché."[2] In 1999 he put the finishing touches to the Bruce Bernard Photography Collection for the James Moores Foundation.[2]

The Victoria and Albert Museum held an exhibition of 100 photographs chosen by Bruce Bernard.[8] An accompanying book 100 photographs, A Collection by Bruce Bernard was published by Phaidon Press in 2002.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Bernard succumbed to cancer in 2000. In the photographer's obituary, Searle remarked: "[Bernard's] sense of what was good and bad art, good and bad photography had an almost moral dimension, but one which was entirely personal, and thoroughly ethical."[2]


  • Holloway, Stanley; Richards, Dick (1967). Wiv a little bit o' luck: The life story of Stanley Holloway. London: Frewin. OCLC 3647363. 


  1. ^ "Mind Your Language: Dot Wordsworth continues her look at BBC booklets on pronunciation published in the 1930s"
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Bruce Bernard: Picture editor and writer whose passionate eye honed a sharp response to the images of a century", The Guardian, 31 March 2000, accessed 30 January 2017.
  3. ^ "He was the nice one: farewell to Oliver Bernard", London Evening Standard, 4 June 2013.
  4. ^ Holloway and Richards, pp. 74–75.
  5. ^ May, A. (2004) "Bernard, Bruce Bonus (1928–2000)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 30 January 2017. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  6. ^ "Photodiscovery: Masterworks of Photography 1840-1940", Abe Books, accessed 30 January 2017.
  7. ^ Vincent by Himself, by Bruce Bernard, Abe Books, accessed 30 January 2017.
  8. ^ Victoria and Albert Museum (2016). "100 Photographs by Bruce Bernard". Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  9. ^ Phaidon. "One Hundred Photographs". Retrieved 16 February 2017.