Bernard G. Silberstein Biography

Bernard G. Silberstein




Photographer Bernard G. Silberstein, FPSA was born in Illinois on January 23, 1905. Silberstein's grandfather and namesake had the distinction of being the first Jewish settler in Duluth, Minnesota, as well as a celebrated public figure in politics and business, according to his son. A graduate of the University of Michigan, the younger Silberstein started out his career as an electrical engineer. He came to Cincinnati as a district manager for the Ilg Electric Co., supervising sales activity in four states. But photography, which he took up in 1936, proved to be his true calling.

A self-tuaght "hobby" photographer, his work garnered enough interest to earn local and then national commissions. He would go on to build an international reputation doing assignments for National Geographic, Life, Holiday, The New York Times, Time, Colliers, Esquire, Popular Photography, The Camera and the Photographic Society of America (PSA) Journal. His subjects included the king of Morocco and artists of the Mexican muralist school and Taller de Grafica Popular. His photographs of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo are among the most well known and have appeared in several books on the famous artist. His work appeared worldwide on album covers, textbooks and advertisements. He was recognized by PSA as one of the top five salon exhibitors in the U.S. in the 1950s, and was awarded a fellowship by the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, as well as one by PSA in 1951.

Silberstein traveled throughout Europe and the United States judging photography exhibits and lecturing. He also gave weekly photography lectures on WLWT (Channel 5) in the 1950s. For 15 years, beginning in 1959, Silberstein taught classes on hobby photography, darkroom technique, and color photography at the University of Cincinnati night school. He was preceded in death by both of his wives, Harriet L. Kahn and Iola O. Hessler.  Silberstein died in Cincinatti, Ohio on November 21, 1999.

Silberstein's work is in the collections of the New York Public Library, NYC; the Detroit Museum of Art, Michigan; the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Hudson River Museum; Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MA; and others.