The Photographic Legacy of Herbert Ascherman, Jr.

Fine art photographer Herbert Ascherman, Jr. has been a strong supporter of the Kinsey Institute Collections for the past five years. Cleveland-based Ascherman has been donating his own work to the Kinsey Institute since 2006, and he has now given us more than 1,000 prints, ranging from fine art nudes to BDSM scenes to portraits of individuals and couples.

Renowned Cleveland photographer Herb Ascherman at the opening of "'Infinitely variable': Nude and Erotic Photographs by Herbert Ascherman Jr" (2008) which featured a selection of his photographs from the Kinsey Institute art collection.

Ascherman’s professional career as a fine art photographer, gallery founder and director, writer, teacher, and historian has spanned more than three decades. Since opening his Cleveland studio in 1975, he has established an international reputation for his black and white and platinum portraiture, and has had numerous one-man exhibitions of his portraits, photojournalism and nude work internationally and in the United States.

In 2008, the Kinsey Institute Gallery displayed a selection of the photographs donated by Ascherman, in the exhibit, 'Infinitely variable': Nude and Erotic Photographs by Herbert Ascherman Jr. More information about this exhibition, and a selection of photographs can be seen online at (under Exhibitions in the menu).

Mr. Ascherman has recently begun donating vintage photographs to expand the scope of our collection, including a very rare stereo daguerreotype (France, c. 1850) and a collection of prints from the turn of the last century showing women cross-dressing as men. He has also supported the Institute’s art collection with financial gifts that have enabled us to purchase needed archival materials and a high-quality scanner that we are using to digitize his prints as well as other photographs and artworks in our collection.

This daguerrotype, part of the Ascherman donation, was used with a stereo viewer to give a three-dimensional effect.

KI Curator Catherine Johnson-Roehr comments that “donors such as Herbert Ascherman are a curator’s dream. Herb supports the work that we do here at the Institute with gifts of his own photographs, and he has been very generous with financial contributions to the art collection. He also donates his time and provides helpful advice based on his many years of experience as a commercial and fine art photographer.”

These photographs, drawn from the Kinsey Institute art collection, convey some of the variety of Mr. Ascherman's photographic work, which spans family portraiture, reinventing classical motifs in his Mythology series, documenting the BDSM community, and celebrating the human form in his nude photographs of dancers in motion.

Clockwise from upper left: Edie and Friend (2008); Untitled (1980s); Fetish scene at Dressing for Pleasure (1994); Hestia: Goddess of the Home and Hearth, Mythology Series (2004).

You can see more of Mr. Ascherman's work on his own website, Herbert Ascherman Jr Photography »


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