Worth Ryder Biography

Worth Ryder




Artist, curator, and art professor Worth Ryder was born on November 10, 1884, in Kirkwood, Illinois. His family moved to Berkeley, California, when Ryder was a child, and he would go on enroll at the University of California, Berkeley in 1904. He did not complete his degree, however, wanting instead to pursue art. He moved to New York in 1906 to study at the Art Students League, supporting himself as an usher at the Metropolitan Opera House, and in 1908 he studied for a year at the Royal Bavarian Academy in Munich (now the Academy of Fine Arts, Munich). 

After returning to California in 1911, he settled in Oakland where he taught Drawing and Anatomy at the California School of Arts and Crafts (now the California College of the Arts) until 1918, and served as curator for the Oakland Art Gallery from 1916 to 1918. For two years he earned a living as an outdoor guide for hikers in the Sierras, where he had grown up exploring the moutains and trails. This afforded him the opportunity to travel once more to Europe, studying art in Germany, France, and Italy for six years. It was there that he would meet German Expressionist Hans Hofmann, and would later be instrumental in bringing Hofmann to the United States, specifically to the San Francisco Bay Area, launching Hoffman's long career as an influential abstract artist and teacher.

Ryder returned to Oakland in 1926 and taught art at UC Berkeley from 1927 until his retirement in 1955, having earned the title of Professor Emeritus. He would become a popular and much respected professor, and among his students were Karl Kasten, Robert Boardman, James McCray, Dorothy Rieber Joralemon, and many others. After his death in 1960, UC Berkeley named a gallery for Ryder and Hofmann donated a painting to the university in honor of his friend. 

Ryder was a member of the College Art Association, the San Francisco Art Association, and the Pacific Art Association. He died on February 17, 1960, in Berkeley, California.