The daughter of a concert pianist and a classical dancer, Eva Rubinstein was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and raised in Paris, France, where she began training as a ballet dancer at the age of five. After the outbreak of World War II her family moved to the United States, and she became an American citizen in 1946. Rubinstein studied at Scripps College in Claremont, California, and in the theater department at the University of California, Los Angeles, subsequently working as an actress and dancer on and off Broadway and appearing in the original production of The Diary of Anne Frank. She married Reverend William Sloane Coffin, Jr., in 1956, with whom she had three children. She began her career as a photographer in 1967 after her divorce, participating in workshops with influential figures such as Lisette Model, Jim Hughes, Sean Kernan, Ken Heyman, and Diane Arbus.
Rubinstein worked as a photojournalist but also created a substantial body of personal work. In these photographs she turns primarily to intimate subjects, ranging from nudes and portraits to interior scenes. In all of her work she aimed to establish a sense of connection and respect with her subject, especially when photographing people. In a 1987 interview she remarked, “When I say ‘identifying myself with someone,’ it does not mean only recognizing something of myself in him, it means coming out of myself, to some half-way point, in order to help him come out, to the point where we can meet. The photograph is the result of this meeting.” Rubinstein’s eponymous portfolio in the MoCP’s collection includes fifteen images created between 1972 and 1979, accompanied by an introduction by André Kertész. The selected photographs share an air of quiet privacy and emotional weight, particularly in images of empty interiors or unmade beds. Heightening this emotional tension, Rubinstein’s photographs capture the delicate play of light in each instance, whether cast softly over on a man’s naked back or illuminating a dark lobby through a diaphanous white curtain.
Eva Rubinstein has exhibited internationally, including at the Delgado Museum of Art (now New Orleans Museum of Art), New Orleans, LA (1972); the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH (solo, 1973); Archetype, New Haven, CT (solo, 1973); Salone Internationale Cine Photo Optica, Milan, Italy (1973); Jan Krugier Gallery, New York, NY (solo, 2007), and in the group exhibition Lisette Model and Her Successors at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA (2009). Monographs include Eva Rubinstein (1974) and Fotografie 1967-1990 (2003). Rubinstein has taught at the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY (1972), and Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY (1974-1975). She was a visiting artist at the Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, OH (1973), and the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI (1974). Rubinstein lives in New York City and Paris, France