Ruth Weisberg

Born in Chicago, Ruth Weisberg began taking art classes at age five at the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1959 she enrolled at the University of Michigan, majoring in art, and the following year she studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Perugia, Italy. After returning to the University of Michigan for her bachelor¹s and master¹s degrees, she went to Paris in 1964 and spent six months at Stanley William Hayter's printmakling Atelier 17. In 1966 she accepted a teaching position at Eastern Michigan University, also setting up her own painting studio and buying an etching press. In 1969 she moved to Santa Monica, California, and a year later began teaching at the University of Southern California. In 1971 and 1972 solo exhibitions of Weisberg¹s work were held in the United States, Norway, and Canada. She subsequently moved her studio to Venice, California, where she worked in lithography. In 1981 she became a full professor at the University of Southern California. In addition to numerous solo and group exhibitions, Weisberg has been the recipient of many honors, such as the Vesta Award in Visual Arts for the Women's Building in Los Angeles, the Outstanding Achievement Award for Alumni from the University of Michigan, and the Distinguished Artist Award from the Fresno Art Museum. In 1990 Weisberg became the first woman to serve as president of the College Art Association.

Ruth Weisberg was appointed dean of the USC Roski School of Fine Arts in 1995. She previously served as chair of the school's studio arts department and as acting associate dean for the School of Architecture and Fine Arts.

Weisberg works primarily in painting, drawing and printmaking. Her work is widely exhibited nationally and internationally, with her recent exhibitions including “Ruth Weisberg: Guido Cagnacci and the Resonant Image” at the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, and “Ruth Weisberg: Unfurled” at the Skirball Cultural Institute, Los Angeles. Additionally, Weisberg’s work is in the collections of major museums, including the Getty Center; Norton Simon Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Smithsonian Institution; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art; Jewish Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago; Harvard University; Biblioteca Nazionale d'Italia (Rome); and Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

She has written more than 60 articles, reviews and catalogue essays, and regularly lectures and curates exhibitions. She has received numerous honors, including the 2009 Women’s Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award, a National Council of Art Administrators Leadership Award, the USC Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award for Creative Work, the College Art Association’s Distinguished Teaching of Art Award, a Senior Research Fulbright combined with a visiting artist residency at the American Academy in Rome, a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar, and a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Hebrew Union College.

She received her M.A. from the University of Michigan and her Laurea in Painting and Printmaking from the Academia di Belle Arti, Perugia, Italy.


I make art out of all aspects of my identity, finding in the process that art integrates my experiences, beliefs and heritage. I am particularly nourished by the history of art, the history of the Jewish people, and by the unwritten history of women. I believe that art creates meaning and can be transformative for both the artist and their audience. I seek to create realms of the imagination in which the viewer can also project their struggles, stories, and desires.

The visual qualities of my work are often affected by the lens of memory; - by the sense of the passage of time and the act of remembering. Various media appeal to me for their distinctive strategies and associations but especially for their visual qualities. For example, lithography for its liquidity, monotypes for their luminosity, and mixed media painting for the tactility of its surface. I find drawing to be the underpinning of everything I do. As a medium, I have treated drawing as both an intimate and monumental form. Since 1974, I have created installations which invite the viewer to enter an architecturally defined space. My interest in the spatial organization of narrative with its potential for interactivity culminated in the large scale works, "The Scroll," 1987-88, and "Sisters and Brothers," 1994.

Ruth Weisberg working on a large scale canvas in her California studio.

Sea Nymph, monotype, 20x28

Giacometti's Table I, woodcut, 12x28

Giacometti's Table II, woodcut, 12x28

Self Portrait, mixed media drawing on paper, 29x20

French Twist, mixed media drawing on paper, 30x20

From the Villa of Mysteries, acrylic on paper, 30x22

Listening, acrylic on paper, 30x22

Vision, mixed media on paper, 39x27

The Door, monotype, 42x29

Waking Dream, oil on canvas, 64x59

Wrestling with the Messenger, oil on canvas, 66x59